"Fatal Attraction Meets Carrie"
A high school senior with a promising swim career has a one-night stand with sinister consequences. Despite a conflicted perspective on pre-marital sex, the movie does show the clear biblical principle of sowing and reaping.
Despite some minor suspense and the interesting, albeit no longer original, concept of a fatal attraction thriller in a teenage context, SWIMFAN tries hard but seems to be treading water in some areas.
Ben Cronin’s (Jesse Bradford) past brushes with the law are long behind him, and he has now become a happy, well-adjusted high school student, ready for graduation. As the school’s most promising varsity swimmer, he appears to have a very bright future ahead of him. Ben also has an adoring, beautiful girlfriend (Shiri Appleby), and a scholarship is in the works if he does well in the upcoming swim meet, which will also be attended by some very important out-of-state scouts. Enter Madison Bell (Erika Christensen), the new girl in school, and the audience doesn’t have to have seen the trailers to know that trouble with a capital T has just arrived on the scene.
By mere coincidence, Alison and Ben cross paths a couple of times, but a few passing encounters are more than enough for Madison to begin to weave her obsession- driven web around Ben’s life. She eventually manipulates the unwitting, though perhaps not totally innocent, Ben into taking a quick detour through the high school’s pool for a little extracurricular swimming. With Madison in full control of the situation and Ben sheepishly going along with the plan, the exercise soon evolves into a hot, waterborne tryst that Ben will regret all the way to the final credits.
As the next day dawns, it appears the events of the previous night will simply be chalked to the natural effects of a couple of teen’s raging hormones, and an amicable parting of the ways seems to be in the making for the two casual lovers, but the audience knows better, doesn’t it? Madison will not be denied, and she promptly begins to insinuate herself into all areas of Ben’s life. When the usually mild-mannered Ben forcefully tells Madison off, it doesn’t take very long before Madison’s obsession with Ben takes a definitely ugly turn, resulting in all sorts of mayhem, and even murder.
Lacking in the special effects imagery and novelty of movies like the CARRIE series, or the adult intensity of FATAL ATTRACTION, and without the element of surprise for what is now an overplayed theme, SWIMFAN, nevertheless, still tries to present this teenage morality drama in an serious, entertaining way, only to achieve mixed results in the process. What it lacks in visual shock value or tension it makes up for in realism and down-to-earth character portrayals, while keeping foul language and violence to an incredibly low level for this genre.
Erika Christensen, who gained notoriety playing against Michael Douglas in TRAFFIC, performs her role as an emotionally-troubled teenager with the necessary angst and professionalism, while Jesse Bradford is likable as the good kid with the spotted past, who is now trying to do the right thing.
Teenagers will certainly be able to identify with the clear message of right and wrong, the driving musical score by John Debney and Louis Febre, and reading between the lines, they will probably also ponder the consequences of sex without love or commitment. On the other hand, the writers comfortably condone premarital sex between Ben and his girlfriend Amy, as long as these love and commitment conditions are met, which are not quite enough justification, since what can be a greater demonstration of commitment than marriage itself? Not to be ignored, a positive aspect of this movie is the minimal violence and foul language involved, with all but one death scene taking place off screen. Also missing are the occult, parapsychology, and anti-Christian elements so predominant in CARRIE.
Although SWIMFAN will probably not motivate anybody to run to join their high school’s swimming team, it might serve as a warning about the flippant, youthful, hormonal choices of passion. Hollywood is portraying accurate patterns of reaping and sowing, and for that it should be commended.
(BB, Pa, L, VV, S, A, D, M) Biblical worldview with many clear distinctions between right and wrong and accurate portrayals of sowing and reaping with secondary pagan worldview with a conflicted condoning of premarital sex, though many negative consequences are shown; 3 obscenities; moderate violence including character getting run over by a car, poisoning & murder, which all take place off screen except for a drowning scene; implied sex & female shown in underwear; alcohol & smoking depicted.
Despite some minor suspense and the interesting, albeit not original, concept of a fatal attraction thriller in a teenage context, SWIMFAN tries hard but seems to be treading water. Ben Cronin has it all: the admiration of his many friends, a beautiful girlfriend, and an impending athletic scholarship. Ben’s rock-solid life is turned upside down, however, with the arrival of Madison, the “new girl in town.” She quickly sets her sights on Ben and seduces him, drawing him in to an out-of-control cycle of betrayal, madness and ultimately murder.
Lacking in the special effects imagery and novelty of movies like the CARRIE series, or the adult intensity of FATAL ATTRACTION, SWIMFAN, nevertheless, still tries to present this teenage morality drama in a serious, entertaining way, only to achieve mixed results in the process. What it lacks in visual shock value or tension it makes up for in realism and down-to-earth character portrayals, while keeping foul language and violence to an incredibly low level. Although SWIMFAN will probably not motivate anybody to run to join their high school’s swimming team, it might serve as a warning about the flippant, youthful choices of passion.