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So Why is the Pool in Night Swim Haunted?

Let's take a closer look at the lore behind the latest horror film from Blumhouse and Atomic Monster.

By Matthew Jackson
Izzy Waller (Amélie Hoeferle), Elliot Waller (Gavin Warren), Kay (Nancy Lenehan), Ray Waller (Wyatt Russell) and Eve Waller (Kerry Condon) in Night Swim, directed by Bryce McGuire.

Spoilers ahead for Night Swim!

From the moment its first teaser trailer arrived online, Night Swim started to attract attention from horror fans thanks to its promise of something we don't see all that often in the genre: Not a haunted house, but a haunted swimming pool. The film's teasers, with their footage of wonderfully tense situations involving dark water and strange things lurking in pool filters, promised a horror experience that might just make us terrified of summer pool days for quite some time. 

But of course, the whole story is more complicated than just "the pool is haunted." There has to be a reason for the evil lurking in this particular backyard, and by the end of the film, Night Swim gives us a detailed, and quite eerie, answer. Let's take a closer look.

Pretty much as soon as the Waller family -- parents Ray (Wyatt Russell) and Eve (Kerry Condon) and children Izzy (Amélie Hoeferle) and Elliot (Gavin Warren) -- moves into their new home, they start to notice something strange about their pool. A pool technician tells them that it's fed by an underground spring, a rarity for modern pools, which means the water might have particular healing properties, and Ray quickly finds that his daily swims are helping with his multiple sclerosis. 

But the rest of the family isn't so lucky. Eve sees strange figures out of the corner of her eye while swimming at night, while Izzy is attacked during a nighttime game of "Marco Polo" and Elliot hears cries for help from a little girl who tries to reach out and grab him. The family tries to brush this all off, especially since Ray is getting better every day thanks to the pool, but eventually things turn dangerous. Ray starts changing, the pool grows more hostile toward the kids, and Eve is forced to go searching for answers.

Why is the Night Swim Pool Haunted?

Armed with the information that the girl Elliot heard is named Rebecca (Ayazhan Dalabayeva), Eve does a little research and discovers that the pool is the source of not just one strange disappearance, but decades worth of mysterious vanishing on the property, all seemingly tied to the swimming pool. That would explain why the family keeps seeing what look like ghosts lurking under the water, but it's more than a simple haunting.

Finally, desperate for clarity, Eve tracks down Rebecca's mother Kay (Jodi Long), who at first pretends that she never had a daughter, only a son who's now a successful diplomat and philanthropist. When Eve presses her, Kay reveals the truth: The spring that feeds the pool is not just a spring, but a kind of oversized wishing well. The water, she says, is "magic," and if someone makes a wish, it seeks to grant that wish, at a terrible price. In order to grant one person's desire, the water must take someone else, and it won't stop until that bargain is completed. Once the life is taken, the water goes dormant again until another wish is made, but if a wish is out there, it's going to keep trying to kill. 

RELATED: The Ending of Night Swim Explained

At last, Eve understands: The water has seduced Ray, possessed him with its dark power, sensing that he wants more than anything to get his baseball career back on track. The water will grant this wish, but the price is Elliot, who struggles with life and sports and, Ray reasons somewhere in his possessed mind, wouldn't have much of a life anyway. Ultimately, Eve and Izzy are able to get Ray to come to his senses, and in order to close the loop of the wish, he sacrifices himself to the water, freeing his family of the curse.

Could We Get More Night Swim Stories?

So, what we're dealing with in the end with Night Swim is not so much a haunted pool, but a magic pool. It's haunted in the sense that the souls of the people it's claimed still lurk there in some form, but what we're mostly dealing with is a sentient, hungry body of water that wants to make bargains in exchange for human lives. 

That's a big idea, one that could easily expand beyond the boundaries of the film itself, so does that mean we'll get a sequel? We're not sure yet, of course, but there are lots of places this lore could go next. Obviously we could journey to the past to see other stories connected to the water, but because the water's source is a spring and not just a single swimming pool, a sequel could also examine other places the water reaches. Maybe someone else is digging a pool in their nearby backyard and they accidentally tap the spring. Maybe some startup finds the healing waters and uses them as a marketing gimmick. The possibilities, like the water itself, are seemingly endless.

Night Swim is now in theaters. Get tickets at Fandango.

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