Revolving around three sisters’ reunion after the drowning of their estranged mother, “The Midnight Swim” depicts the events through a home movie filmed from the point of view of June (Lindsay Burge), the family archivist.
Unconvinced that their mother, a seasoned diver, drowned by accident, they begin theorizing that her death might have been a suicide or caused by supernatural forces. Enabled by their old pal Josh (Ross Partridge), they gamely invoke the spirits of the Seven Sisters from folklore apparently derived from Greek mythology. Inexplicable things indeed start to occur, nudging the film toward “The Blair Witch Project” territory.
The family drama unfolds more like a mystery, gradually revealing a dynamic fraught with emotional trauma. One particularly memorable sequence starts out with the sisters laughing as they try on Mom’s old clothes and ends with them in tears after impersonations of mother throwing fits that have scarred them for life. Meanwhile, the film reveals frustratingly little about the sisters themselves.
In due time we learn that June might have been an unreliable narrator and that the paranormal activities might just have been mechanisms of denial and coping — but then, maybe not. Writer-director Sarah Adina Smith has us all the way until the end, when she attempts to depict reincarnation as Gaspar Noé did with “Enter the Void” — except that no one ever enters the next life with camera in hand.
“The Midnight Swim”
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes
Playing: Downtown Independent, Los Angeles. Also on video on demand.