SWIMFAN (2002)

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SWIMFAN (2002)
Directed by John Polson

Putting his criminal history of drug addiction and theft behind him for good, senior student Ben Cronin has everything he could want in life: a beautiful girlfriend name Amy and the potential of a promising career as a championship swimmer. Beating his teammates, Ben is a surefire for Stanford University should he impress their scouts who are attending the upcoming swim meet in a few days so his coach tells him to focus on nothing but his swimming. Unfortunately for Ben, a seductive student transfers to his school by the name of Madison Bell. After helping her open her locker and giving her a lift after almost knocking her over in his car, he finds himself one on one with her. Despite his protestations of having a girlfriend who he adores, he gives in to temptation. Filled with regret following their tryst, they agree to keep it quiet but it seems that Madison won’t take no for an answer as she convinces herself that she and Ben are now in a relationship. The more Ben rebuffs her advances, the more she’s determined to get her man, at whatever the cost.

A Fatal Attraction for the younger generation, this teen thriller from early 2000’s used to be advertised on DVDs when I was a teen. Having never seen SWIMFAN but noticing it was free to watch on Prime Video, I decided to dive right in (sigh).

Jesse Bradford stars as the handsome young swimmer Ben Cronin who’s got everything going for him but who thinks with his penis in a moment of weakness and suddenly finds his life falling apart around him. Though he should never have given in to the temptress Madison Bell (played a subtle fervour by Erika Christensen), it’s hard to dislike Ben and when he starts to succumb to a series of intense and destructive events, you can’t help but feel for the guy. Ben eventually begins to realise how much he’s put his foot in it when Madison pesters him with an abundance of messages on his school’s email and instant messenger at home following their one night stand. All he’d like to do is forget it ever happened but Madison believes there’s more to their fling than Ben wishes. When Madison begins to interfere in other aspects of his life, he begins to realise just how dangerous Madison really is.

Throughout the film, we see Ben try to close down the Madison saga, all whilst trying to keep his fling a secret from his beloved girlfriend Amy. Just as he thinks he’s nipped it in the bud, Madison rears her ugly head as her obsession with him intensifies. The more Ben tries to close it down, the harder Madison tries to make Ben hers, even if it means destroying the object of her affection. It’s frightening in its own way due to the lengths that Madison is prepared to go and with no signs of stopping nor slowing, her interference in his life reaches fever pitch. Poor Ben has no-one to turn to and with his past history of criminal mischief and drug abuse, people around him begin to suspect he’s slipped into his old ways rather than believe he’s the target of an obsessed young woman.

The school setting of SWIMFAN helps to create a situation where Ben faces his stalker every day but it’s her appearances outside of school which really hit home. As for the swimming element of the movie, this neatly ties into the plot as well as providing an interesting location not often seen in movies for some of the film’s more intense scenes, both steamy and shocking.

The cast do a decent enough job with the material even though there’s nothing to really make you go “wow” though the character of Amy seems to be so underwritten that she seems to be nothing more than a shell of a person who’s life revolves around her beau Ben and nothing else thus we know that when she eventually finds out about Ben’s affair she’ll be nothing short of devastated.

SWIMFAN plays out exactly as to be expected for a teen thriller. Even though it shows its age a little 20 years on, thanks to its use of a pager and the retro aesthetic of the instant messenger used as stalking devices, it does what it says on the tin and is entertaining enough to while away 90 minutes.

Rating: ★★★★★½☆☆☆☆

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About Bat 4417 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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