U.S. Release Date:
September 6, 2002
Producer: Marcy Drogin (co-producer), Allison Lyon Segan
Composer: John Debney
Cast: Erika Christensen
Running Time: 1 hour and 26 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (mature thematic elements, sexual content, disturbing images and language)
If you've seen the trailer for SwimFan and were taken back by its frenetic look at a relentless temptress bent on ruining a teenage boy's life, stop there. You've just seen all there is to see. You don't have to possess psychic powers to figure out each one of the movie's "watered" down thrills long before they happen. However, despite the predictability that bogs it down, John Polson's teen driven version of Fatal Attraction stays afloat some of the time thanks to a convincing performance by its leading lady.
Things are going great for Ben Cronin (Jesse Bradford). He has a beautiful girlfriend Amy (Shiri Appleby) and a promising future. Despite his shaky past with drugs he has managed to grow into the star swimmer on his high school swim team and has a shot at going to Stanford. Enter the new girl Madison Bell (Erika Christensen). She's a blonde bombshell with a talent for seduction and a taste for obsession. Yep, you guessed it. Madison has her eye on Ben, and he's all too easily convinced to risk his world for a quickie in the pool with her. Naturally, after the fact, Ben would like to forget it ever happened. Madison isn't so keen on that plan and will do whatever it takes to have Ben all to herself, ruining his life in the process.
None of Madison's treachery is worthy of the edge-of-your-seat thrills the trailer portrays. The title SwimFan refers to Madison's Internet identity and would have you believe that the Internet plays an important role in her tormenting of Ben. Think again. So she sends him 81 emails with naked pictures of herself—what's so scary about that? It's nothing he hasn't seen already. All of her schemes are just a little too convenient. Madison manages to frame Ben for her attempts to run down Amy in cold blood and for the murder of his friend and swimming rival Josh (Clayne Crawford). Anyone who is set up that easily is asking for it. I won't ruin whatever suspense you might find by telling you anymore, but I'll just say that it's all too illogical.
The only thing I would deem electrifying in this mess is Christensen. She is a terrifying teenage villainess. One cold stare from her is worth a thousand nasty deeds, and that's good considering that anything truly devious is in short supply.
The human aspect of Madison allows you to sympathize with her for a short while. After all, Ben cruelly tosses her aside. Teenage boys are models of selfishness and immaturity, and maybe Ben deserves what's coming to him. You might even think the movie has a chance at shedding its shallow and predictable persona, but all that is bungled when the filmmakers haphazardly toss a subplot into the mix. They reveal Madison to be some kind of serial stalker—just your normal dime a dozen psycho. She just seems more dangerous when she's fragile, and when you realize her whole destruction of Ben is premeditated any inkling of her fragility is thrown right out the window.
Bradford's performance is forgettable, but it's not his fault. He was written as a weak and stupid teenage boy and that's exactly what I saw. Both he and Appleby's Amy are confined to being victims. It would have been nice to see Ben take more of an active role in defending what's left of his life, but all he can do is storm around saying, "It's her. I'm telling you, it's her!"
The last half hour is comical. All it lacks is somebody holding a big sign in front of the camera that says, "Here Comes the End." You'll ask some relevant questions during this time, such as "Since when do cops ride in the back seat with their prisoners?" Don't feel silly for not believing that a teenage girl can overpower a grown man either.
I suggest renting SwimFan if you absolutely must see it. Maybe I'm being too hard on a movie made for teens, but if they want a decent thriller I think they could do better than this.