Synopsis: The crew of a West of Ireland trawler, marooned at sea, struggle for their lives against a growing parasite in their water supply.
Stars: Connie Nielsen, Hermione Corfield, Dougray Scott, Olwen Fouéré, Jack Hickey, Ardalan Esmaili
Director: Neasa Hardiman
Running Length: 95 minutes
TMMM Score: (7.5/10)
Review: All together now – What kind of movie does The MN Movie Man like more than anything as a guilty pleasure?: Underwater Creature Features.
You know that once I was offered the chance to watch and review the new Irish horror film Sea Fever I jumped at it because if there’s one thing I know, it’s a good horror film and if there’s one thing I like, it’s something creepy underwater that picks people off one by one. Add to that an eerie timeliness of arriving just as the world was put on its own lockdown quarantine and you have a movie that could be an effective winner if it comes off as planned. Thankfully, despite obvious budget limitations and some pacing issues, Sea Fever is infectious fun.
Marine biologist Siobhán (Hermione Corfield, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) isn’t exactly thrilled about spending time on a fishing boat but she’s unable to graduate without doing some real world studies. While the Captain (Dougray Scott, My Week with Marilyn) and his wife (Connie Nielsen, Inheritance) are welcoming to the young student, the rest of the crew are dyed in the wool sea farers who believe in the superstitions about the ocean and all her mysteries. So something like Siobhán’s red hair means bad luck before they’re even out of port…and it turns out to be a harbinger of things to come. Straying from their intended course in order to guarantee a good net of fish and a hefty payday, the boat winds up converging with something massive that attaches itself to their hull. What’s locked onto their vessel eventually seeps inside…first the boat and then the crew, releasing a deadly parasite. Drawing from similar creature features like Leviathan and The Thing, it becomes a race against time to get back to shore alive while eliminating the hungry organism before it consumes them all.
Though it gets off to a good start, about 45 minutes into Sea Fever things get a little soggy because it feels like writer/director Neasa Hardiman has hit a wall in where to steer her ship next. She’s navigated to a solid place. did a fairly good job in establishing the crew (though, I have to say there were two that I kept confusing because they looked so similar), and introduced a corker of a scary situation. Then, everything kind of stalls for a good twenty minutes as Siobhán studies the organism and devises a way to defeat it, while trying to keep the crew (and herself) alive throughout. Thankfully, things pick up again for the last fifteen minutes and Hardiman is able to bring it home with a satisfying (if somber) finale…but trimming it by 10-12 minutes wouldn’t have been a bad idea.
Hardiman also gets nice performances out of her cast, with Corfield being a subdued and unexpected lead. She may be a bit of an enigma at times, but it worked for how she was acting and reacting to the situation and the ship’s crew – both of whom she seemed to be battling at one point or another. Scott and Nielsen not only offer worthy contributions as dependable leads but they find time to make a small backstory Hardiman has crafted seem germane to the film instead of distracting from the central horror of the plot. Of the crew, I most enjoyed Olwen Fouéré (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) as a mother hen-ish type. With her wild white hair she could at times be a nurturing presence or a wild sea witch if provoked…it’s the type of performance that makes sense within the confines of this movie and kept you wondering where the real danger was lurking.
All in all, I’m glad a movie like Sea Fever is out there because we need more movies like this, especially written/directed by women! The effects aren’t going to blow your mind but they work better than expected for a smaller movie like this. Earlier this year, Underwater was another slick deep sea creature feature that excelled by keeping the focus tight on a small number of characters. That same logic applies here and it works quite well, resulting in a high degree of entertainment.