Watching someone spiral out of control can make you uncomfortable, and that’s exactly what The Serve intends to do. This is a slow-paced depiction of a woman having her world crumble day by day. A story centered around basic human needs being ignored and the consequences that can arise as a result. The Swerve is a nail-biting look at someone’s existence being eradicated.
This film takes its time allowing you to grow sympathetic towards the lead character, Holly. Everything around her seems normal, but inside she is progressively losing her sanity. Psychological thrillers set out to play with your mind, but The Swerve plays with your emotions as well. Directed and written by Dean Kapsalis, The film stars Azura Skye, Bryce Pinkham, Ashley Bell, and Zach Rand. The Swerve follows Holly (Skye), a caring mother, and teacher who finds herself going through a mental breakdown, as everyone in her life continues to act like she doesn’t exist. Her family ignores her, her husband is cheating on her, and her sister is the cherry on top of her negative home life. Eventually, Holly finds comfort in one of her students, and her issues just become worse.
There aren’t enough words that can speak to how emotionally draining this film can be at times. Kapsalis has effectively written a distressing film that will stick with you once it’s over. The characters aren’t developed outside of Holly, but they all factor into her pending demise and they don’t even notice. The Swerve opens with Holly being startled by a rat in her house as if to show how simple the smallest inconvenience can spark so much change in her. As mentioned, Holly is a mother, as well as a teacher, but her children don’t seem to care too much about her. However, a student in her class, Paul (Rand), has a crush on her. Their relationship is inappropriate and odd, but Holly finds comfort in this because of how unavailable her husband seems. Kapsalis’ screenplay definitely is a near-perfect depiction of a slow descent into madness.
Skye’s portrayal of Holly is what will have viewers glued to the screen. She is so powerful in this role and takes you on a brutal journey through every emotion Holly feels. Also, the chemistry between her and Rand helps amplify their inappropriate relationship. Skye has been in numerous projects in the past, but her performance here is career-defining. Between Kapsalis’ direction and Skye’s performance, the film forces you to feel for this woman’s unfortunate situation. Rand is great in his role as Paul, and while their relationship is inappropriate. It’s important to remember that Paul is the only character in this film who makes Holly feel alive.
Kapsalis’ takes you on a slow burn that features a chilling score by Mark Korven. It adds to the distressing nature of the film and heightens the mental downfall of Holly. Also, the score contributes to the atmosphere established in the film. Kapsalis has made an impression with this outing because he does a great job establishing the film’s sad nature and slowly making it darker, as Holly spirals to her endpoint. The cinematography on display was great as well, so from a technical standpoint, The Swerve is a homerun.
The Swerve is a dark look at a woman’s mental instability slowing consuming her existence. It’s carried mostly by a strong career-defining performance by Skye, but it is an effective debut feature from Kapsalis. This will certainly be a hit for anyone who has suffered from mental illness, domestic abuse, or severe depression. The Swerve highlights how important it is to pay attention to the emotions of others.