Occasionally I'm bad, and have to be punished. This is of the cruel and unusual variety.

Released in 2002, certified UK-15. Reviewed on 20 Oct 2003 by Scott Morris
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I've nothing much to add to the barrage of bile already spilt on this particularly poor example of everything it tries, but seeing as I suffered through its interminable length I feel the need to share the punishment with you, dear friends.

Ben Cronin (Jesse Bradford) swims like a fish, which could net him a tidy college scholarship. Despite a shady past involving thieving to fuel his drug habit, Ben's all cleaned up, working part-time in a hospital to fuel his swimming habit and beautiful girlfriend Amy (Shiri Appleby). This is all we ever learn about Ben. Amy is a fellow high school student and seems a nice enough girl. This is all we ever learn about Amy. Into this underwritten scenario steps new girl Madison (Erika Christensen) who sets her sights on Ben. This is all we ever learn about Madison.

In an understandable moment of weakness Ben plays an aquatic game of hide the sausage with Madison although the pair swear it means nothing to them and vow to forget about it. It soon becomes apparent that Madison has watched Fatal Attraction a few too many times and goes into full bunny-boiling mode, starting with some low level stalking and irritation before moving to some more extreme methods. Unfortunately you're not going to care about the fate of any of the characters due to their astonishing shallowness.

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There's a broad sense that Amy and Ben are nice people. There's a slight sense that Madison is a nut, although she never seems to quite have the same spiralling sense of insanity that is essential to have us care. Why this is absent is at once a simple question to answer and the most complex question to answer - this film fails in every aspect that it possibly could. The acting is atrocious throughout, especially from Christensen which was surprising giving the plaudits she received off the back of Traffic

How gripping is this tale? The palpable lack of tension, intrigue and basic competency resulted in me deciding that a more enthralling use of my time would be to cut my toenails. You know what this does well? Nothing. To call this movie bad is to waste a perfectly good opportunity to use the word atrocious.

Jesse Bradford displays all the personality of a cheese sandwich, his characters relationship with Amy displaying all the warmth of a walk-in freezer set to 'chilly' and the passion with which he reacts to his seduction by Madison is roughly as erotic as that scene in Scanners where that guys head blows up. Erika Chrisensen imbues Madison with all the pent-up rage and psychopathic demeanour as Skippy The Bush Kangaroo. Shiri Appleby is certainly present, as are a few other witless and ineffectual teen characters so badly underwritten I can't be bothered to list them individually and at any rate I would be hard pushed to remember who each of them were.

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The sound track is chock-full of nu-rock nonsense chosen specifically to irritate me rather than build any tension or empathy with the characters situation. John Polson could have done with watching a few Hitchcock movies before attempting this, at least then there may have been some interesting stylistics to break up the monotony. His only adventurous move is an edit of one of aforementioned musical horrors while Ben drives somewhere looking morose with brief flashbacks to his soggy tryst with Madison accompanied by a harsh static burst. Unfortunately it falls flat by not sounding too out of place with what it's supposed to juxtapose.

Asinine, lazy, poorly thought out and sloppily executed, Swimfan is 85 minutes of tepid boredom you'll never get back. While this hasn't been one of my more structured, planned or wittiest reviews there was one point I'd set out to transmit so I'll restate it to be abundantly clear: -

This film is very bad indeed.

Thank you for your time, that is all.

Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 1/5 TippyMarks.

John Polson
Cast list:
Jesse Bradford (Ben Cronin)
Erika Christensen (Madison Bell)
Shiri Appleby (Amy Miller)