As certain plot points play out, Sea Fever might hit a little too close to home to be escapist entertainment right now. Those willing to climb aboard will find one of the smartest sci-fi horror/thrillers in years.
Siobhan’s (Hermoine Corfield, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) people skills are terrible. She’d rather isolate herself while others in her marine biology doctorate program know how to unwind after a hard day’s work.
This makes her less than thrilled that her teacher signed her up to join a fishing boat excursion. Gradually she warms up to the crew, owners Freya (Connie Nielsen, Wonder Woman) and her husband, Gerald (Dougray Scott, Batwoman); chef Ciara (Olwen Fouere) and her niece Johnny (Jack Hickey); engineer Omid (Ardilan Esmaili) and Sudi (Elie Bouakaze).
The crew even manages to get over their superstition on a redhead at sea. Turns out Siobhan might have brought some bad luck after all as the ship gets caught by a parasite that doesn’t take kindly to those invading its space.
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Sea Fever definitely has an Alien and The Abyss vibe to it. The production values have more of a throwback look as well, which works alright in this case as it adds to the mounting sense of dread.
It’s a little eerie how prescient Director/Screenwriter Neasa Hardiman is about society’s reluctance to think of the greater good. Siobhan’s statement that they need to quarantine to ensure the virus doesn’t spread to others when they reach shore clearly sounds far more timely now than when Hardiman completed the film in 2019.
Hardiman, who directed some episodes of Jessica Jones, has a great sense of the timely use of suspense and the importance of delivering on scares. She establishes an admirable constant state of uneasiness from the second act on.
The payoffs on those death scenes is impressive. It’s clear Hardiman doesn’t have a massive budget, but she shows how that doesn’t have to be an insurmountable obstacle.
Corfield is solid in the lead role constantly sticking firm to her values even if it’s not the most popular choice in a mob mentality setting like a terrified crew. Nielsen and Scott provide a good balance to each other and their characters alternate running hot and cold. Esmaili also stood out as the more calm voice of reason as Omid tried to smooth over Siobhan’s choices.
If there was any grey area with the film is there’s not enough development with Siobhan’s past. Some of the characters don’t need a lot of backstory, but this was a case where the film could have managed just fine with another 10-20 minutes fleshing out the characters further.
Even in a normal movie year, Sea Fever would make my end of the year hidden gems list. In 2020, it’s one of the best new films available that won’t suffer from a big screen presentation. Sea Fever is currently available On Demand and Digital.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Dust