Holly (One Missed Call’s Azura Skye) is an invisible woman. Ignored and taken for granted by her two rude and obnoxious teenage sons she is also rejected and neglected by her husband Rob (Bryce Pinkham from The Good Wife and The Get Down) who is extremely preoccupied by his work.
Her parents are just as uncaring and ineffective and it is her younger sister Claudia (the excellent Ashley Bell from The Last Exorcism) who gets all the attention and sympathy seeing as she is a recovering alcoholic and drama queen. In Holly’s job as a high school teacher things are not much better and only one boy from her class seems to notice her although his interest is not entirely healthy.
Constantly medicated Holly has reached the end of her tether and the world around her seems to slowly be slipping away. Increasingly unaware of what is real she has various erratic episodes the worst of which sees her disappear from her parents’ house late at night for a drive. Following this event flashes of something terrible start invading her mind and she questions her sanity and what happened that night but the answers lead her further into darkness.
Many horror movies in recent years have focused on mental health from the effective and affecting Daniel Isn‘t Real and The Black String to the dumb and offensive Kindred Spirit and it seems horror is the perfect genre to explore this subject which is so pertinent and prevalent in today’s society.
Wonderfully written and directed by first time feature maker Dean Kapsalis The Swerve is a harrowing portrait of a women on the verge of a mental breakdown that dares to take us over the edge. Starting off with the small and seemingly insignificant invasion of a mouse in her house Holly’s world slowly comes crashing down around her as she is overwhelmed by depression and ironically it is that initial minor incident that comes back to haunt her in the films shocking cataclysmic climax.
Although The Swerve is very well made it is all about the performances especially the exceptional Azura Skye who is intense and inspired throughout. Keeping the character relatable and real is no mean feat in a film such as The Swerve yet Skye offers up a powerful and raw portrayal allowing us to see the cracks broaden and break Holly as the people around her continue to let her down and the story moves forward to its fateful conclusion.
Painful, powerful and extremely important the final film of FrightFest 2020 was most definitely not what I expected but it contained a show stopping performance from Azura Skye that few actors could have followed.