I don’t know why I love movies set at sea so much and as you probably guessed, Sea Fever is such a movie. Perhaps because I really liked science fiction creature features like Virus and Deep Rising when I was younger. Not to mention the classics like The Abyss or Sphere. They were not perfect movies but they had that something, that special ingredient. I guess that the fact you’re so vulnerable in the vastness of the sea and yet feel safe in the cramped environment of the ship. You get a sense of claustrophobia and agoraphobia at the same time.
Not to mention the Lovecraftian motives. I know I just gave away a bit of the plot, but I think you already suspected that this might turn out to be that type of movie. Released in 2019, when we had no idea that 2020 is going to turn out to be such a shitty year with pandemic and all the other crap, it’s also surprisingly current. And that little tidbit I will leave for you to discover.
Sea Fever, being an Irish movie has that additional dose of authenticity and likability. Aye, that be true alright. It’s a mixture of Alien and The Thing, two of my favorite movies. However, towards the end, it starts losing momentum but still makes it over the line. The atmosphere is very intense and brooding without forced attempts at humor. It’s an undemanding horror survival movie with a distinctive vibe. To me, this was its greatest quality and the thing that sets it apart from dozens of cheap sci-fi milkers. I know that a lot of people are comparing to Harbinger Down, a movie that I am yet to see but that looks like exactly that.
As Siobhan, a young student researching sea fauna, comes on board the fishing trawler the Niamh Cinn Óir, she hopes to create algorithms that will help her predict ecological outcomes. A bunch of fancy words that our crew of struggling fisherman doesn’t care much about. They are hoping to catch some fish and avoid the exclusion zone that the coast guard has warned them about. However, when they don’t find much fish on their planned route, the captain decides to take a detour…
The cast was phenomenal, starting with our young heroine Hermione Corfield whose committed performance carried the movie along with experienced Dougray Scott (Last Passenger, Perfect Creature, Dark Water) and Olwen Fouéré. And the rest of the crew was also pretty good pulling you into deeper and deeper into the story. There are some pretty gruesome and gory scenes that just hit you out of nowhere. Realistic and nasty, they look like something out of a much more expensive movie.
As the story unfolds, the tension keeps rising and rising. The crew keeps arguing, not knowing what to do and the threats just keep increasing. This increased pressure makes you think that we’re in for one hell of a finale, but that’s not what Sea Fever has in store for us. Gloomy and mysterious, it remains in this mood ’till the end. I know that this was a deal-breaker for all those who were expecting it to “lift-off”. If you’re looking to continue your exploration of horror at sea I recommend you check out Underwater with a similar atmosphere and setup. Enjoy.
Director: Neasa Hardiman
Writer: Neasa Hardiman
Cast: Hermione Corfield, Dag Malmberg, Jack Hickey, Olwen Fouéré, Dougray Scott, Connie Nielsen, Ardalan Esmaili, Elie Bouakaze
Fun Facts: Actress Toni Collette was originally chosen for the lead role but because of scheduling issues she was replaced by Connie Nielsen.