Today I am recapping the story of the Hollywood movie “Swallow.” It was released in 2019.
The story revolves around a woman who copes with her mental struggles in the most unconventional way. It is a drama, mystery, and thriller film. It is a must-watch kind of film.
Unresolved feelings often lead to mental and physical health problems, and it can also affect one’s relationship with others and steer into a pit of depression. In this film, a young wife named Hunter journeys into self-discovery while burying the pain of her past along the way. She finds a sense of comfort in random objects not to own but to eat.
Hunter and her husband, Richie Conrad, lived together in a high-end and luxurious estate as a newlywed couple.
Hunter came from a low-income family and was recently introduced to the wealthy life of her husband’s family.
Despite her relatively comfortable life, Hunter feels a sense of loneliness because Richie is constantly preoccupied. Even at home, Richie prioritizes his work and business over conversing with his wife. After some time, Hunter finds out that she is pregnant, and Richie is delighted
with the news. He immediately calls his parents Catherine and Michael, to inform them of Hunter’s pregnancy. All of them decide to meet up at a restaurant to celebrate the exciting
news. However, whenever Hunter wants to share something, Richie and his family easily brush her off. This makes Hunter feel irrelevant as she lacks knowledge of the family business. The following day Catherine gives the Hunter a self-help book and insists that she needs it. Before leaving, Catherine also comments on how Hunter should grow her hair as Richie prefers girls with long hair. The way that Hunter’s mother-in-law talks to her makes her feel insecure.
Hunter opens the book, and the first quote she sees is trying to do something unexpected every day. She ends up staring at a box of trinkets and develops an impulse to eat a marble. After doing so, the Hunter feels a sense of satisfaction having done something genuinely unexpected. The following day Richie gets mad at Hunter for ruining one of his favorites ties, so she says sorry despite her sincere apology Richie remains mad at her. Hunter manages to remove the swallowed marble from her system and thoroughly cleans it. She places it gently on a glass tray as if it is
something special and sentimental. Hunter spends the day watching educational pregnancy-related videos in preparation for her motherhood. She suddenly receives a call from Catherine, who invites her over to their family home. Catherine asks Hunter what she did for a living before meeting Richie; coming from a low-income family, Hunter used to sell toiletries. Upon hearing this, Catherine comments on “How lucky Hunter is for meeting Ritchie and being part of their family” Out of the blue, Catherine asks Hunter if she is happy or just pretending to be. She is taken aback by her mother-in-law’s question and replies that she is at the happiest point of her life. It is difficult enough to admit that she suffers mentally. Hunter feels guilt whenever she thinks that she is sad because many people would kill to be in a comfortable home in a well-off life at home. Hunter decides to clean the house to distract herself while cleaning the carpet; she finds thumbtacks stuck on the machine and places them on the kitchen counter. Hunter looks at it intently and puts it
in her mouth. This time she snaps out of her weird impulse and spits the thumbtacks out. She sat down to take some time to calm herself down, but she couldn’t help. After minutes of resisting herself, Hunter walks to the kitchen and swallows the thumbtacks. She gets hurt in the process causing her to have difficulty breathing. However, the Hunter tearfully smiles upon feeling the thumbtacks go to her system. She holds her belly and lies down in bed, proud of herself.
That night Richie brings his friends over to their house, but he doesn’t even bother introducing them to Hunter. Instead, they all hang out in the pool. At the same time, Hunter feels extreme pain in her stomach. She heads to the bathroom, where she vomits out the thumbtacks leaving the toilet all bloody just like the marble Hunter places the thumbtacks in her special tray. Hunter finds more satisfaction in swallowing the objects than interacting with her husband and his family. Even motherhood doesn’t excite her as much as the thing does. One of Richie’s workmates, Aaron, sees Hunter washing off a bloodstain on her dress. He approaches her to ask if anything is wrong, but she claims that everything is fine. Under the influence of alcohol, Aaron asks if he could get a hug from Hunter, which she finds weird. After claiming that he is lonely, Hunter opens her arms to him, and both of them embrace.
For the next few days, the Hunter appears to be more lively and energetic. She is more smiley and inspired to move around the house, even completing the nursery room.
As days go by, she continues to add more inedible objects to her tray while reading pages from Catherine’s book, even eating some of the pages. Finally, the young couple visits the hospital for an ultrasound and is happy to hear that the baby is well. However, the technician finds an anomaly in her abdomen, and the sensor hurts on her, which causes her to scream. She is immediately brought to the emergency room for surgery, where the doctor retrieves various objects from her intestine her condition is labeled as pica. This psychological disorder compels an individual to swallow inedible objects.
Richie gets mad at the Hunter at home for not telling him about her condition before they married. He lashes out at her inconsiderate about Hunter’s feelings. It shows how both of them married each other for any reason but love. At that point, Hunter realizes that Richie’s love for her has bounced and that he does not accept her for her imperfections. She spends all her time being the woman Richie wants her to be, which makes her struggle more with her identity crisis. Richie’s family arranges a meeting with Alice, a psychiatrist in the city; during her first therapy session, Hunter is hesitant to share about her childhood and family life. When Alice asks Hunter why she swallows objects, she claims that the textures give her a satisfying feeling at home.
Richie and his parents introduce Hunter to Louie, a nurse who will monitor her as she recovers. At first, Hunter is hesitant to be looked after, but she has no choice but to abide by Richie’s parents. Hunter feels trapped in her marriage as she feels controlled. Louie attempts to help in her daily routines, but she is hostile towards him. She claims that she can do everything on her own without his help. In response, Louie disregards Hunter’s mental illness and claims that it is due to her privileged life. Hunter is aware of her privilege, and she is grateful for it; however, some instances make her crave a much simpler. She feels more entrapped in a life filled with memories, not things with Louie around, but she understands that is for her and the baby’s safety. It creates a concept in her mind that she has to give Richie a child an inheritor. She feels that her body is controlled, and the child inside her does not feel like her own.
Whenever Hunter goes to the bathroom, Louie checks if she has anything with her that she could swallow. However, Hunter has already kept a stash of items in the bathroom and continues with her obsession. During her next session with Alice, Hunter claims that the objects she swallows give her a sense of control. It is very unconventional, but those things are somehow making her life easier. Unfortunately, the session is cut short because Hunter has to attend Richie’s birthday party with relatives. Hunter looks rather happy and smiley at the party, not until she bumps into Bev, their friend who accidentally says something about her stomach. It triggers Hunter, who finds it a sensitive topic, so Bev apologizes repeatedly.
Richie and Hunter talk in private, and she expresses her frustration about him. Sharing her condition with the people at the party, her husband surprisingly brushes off her concern and says she should not ruin his special day. However, Richie’s treatment toward Hunter makes her question their marriage. Her husband feels like he can do anything he wants if the Hunter benefits from his money. Hunter realizes that her life revolves around her husband, and she lives it according to his liking. As Hunter grows more comfortable with Alice, she shares her childhood issues. During their session, Hunter reveals that her mother was a victim of an assault, and she was its product. Her father’s real name is William Irwin, and he is now a free man. Hunter carries a picture of him in her bag all the time and claims that she has moved on. As Hunter finally shares her life story, Alice cuts her off, saying that their session has ended.
One morning Hunter plants flowers in the garden. She has an impulse toward eating the soil in her hands, but she overcomes it. Upstairs she hears Richie talking to Alice on the phone about her sessions. Alice reveals Hunter’s past to Richie, causing him to be confused. Hunter feels completely betrayed and hyperventilates. After her husband leaves for work after realizing that Richie knows about her past. Hunter has spent most of her life hiding that one dark secret from everyone. Hearing it from the very person she trusted the most, Alice, makes her feel unsafe. Her father’s crime feels like a stain. She could not remove from her life, and she could not reassure herself enough that it was fine.
In their bedroom, Hunter breaks down and crawls under the bed. She cries uncontrollably, and Louie stays beside her for comfort. Hunter eventually wakes up and runs to the kitchen to find something to swallow. While Louie is asleep, Hunter gets a miniature screwdriver and swallows it.
However, the tool gets stuck in her throat, and Louie wakes up just in time to call 911. Luckily Hunter survives after the operation and is more distressed than ever. Upon returning home, Richie and his parents inform Hunter that she will be admitted to a psychiatric hospital until the baby is born. According to Michael, she pleads to stay with them, but Richie will divorce her if she doesn’t go. Without
a choice, Hunter signs the admission papers, and the family escorts her outside the house. Before leaving, Hunter says that she forgot something inside and goes back to the room. Louie follows her as part of the protocol, feeling sorry for her. They both look at each other, and Louie helps the Hunter escape from the house.
He informs them that Hunter is just in the bathroom, so there is nothing to worry about while Hunter runs through the woods. Richie checks the bathroom and finds out that his wife got away. Hunter makes it to the road, where a stranger drops her off at a motel. That night Hunter calls Richie to inform him that she rushed into their marriage and family life just to make him happy. Richie begs her to come back, but he insults and belittles her after refusing to do so. The scene exposes Richie’s manipulative side and his real intentions toward Hunter. Finally, he found a woman that would tolerate his behavior but not for long. After turning him down for the first time, she feels empowered, realizing that she is much more worthy than he claims. She spends the rest of the night watching television while eating soil from outside.
The following day Hunter calls her mother to ask if she could visit her in a respectful tone. Instead, her mother says that she has guests, and there is just not enough room for her. These words hurt Hunter because she needs her mother in this critical moment of her life.
Then Hunter goes to her biological father’s house, where a party is about to begin. William and his wife Lucy are throwing a party. The couple welcomes Hunter into their home and even introduces her to their daughter.
Shortly after, Hunter reveals her true identity, which takes William by surprise. He becomes uncomfortable and uneasy upon hearing joe McCoy Hunter’s mother.
She threatens him about ruining his life, but William takes every word bravely, both of them have an emotional conversation. William professes his shame for the crime he committed years ago. Hunter then asks if he is ashamed of her. He replies that he isn’t. Sensing that Hunter is going through a serious crisis, he assures her that she is not at fault and she did not do anything wrong. His mistake should not make her feel any less of a person and not take shame for his crime. After their much-needed closure, Hunter goes to a nearby clinic to access pills to end her pregnancy. Without second thoughts, Hunter takes the prescribed medications and completely removes the baby in a public restroom.
Afterward, she looks at herself in the mirror and gives a faint smile. Hunter leaves as she is ready to start a new life.
The story revolves around Hunter’s struggles with self-identity all her life. She felt pushed away and unwanted because of how she was conceived. Growing up in an unhappy home, she has never felt a sense of belonging anywhere. Richie has been her silver lining, or so she thought; as a wife, she followed Richie’s rules, and it cost her happiness. Even her pregnancy is done to satisfy Richie and his family, portraying his conditional love for her. Hunter swallows things to make her feel in control for once.
From Hunter’s birth to her own pregnancy, all the choices are made for her and not by her. The psychological distress spiraled her into an illness of swallowing these objects.
The conversation with her father frees her burdens in life. Hunter decides to get rid of the baby as she does not want the child to end up just like her. Having experienced a sad upbringing, she prevents her supposed-to-be baby from witnessing the bitter side of life.
In the end, Hunter chooses to accept herself as she is one of the hardest pills to swallow.