While never quite living up to its initial promise, writer/director Neasa Hardiman tells an effective sci-fi horror tale in Sea Fever. One with unintentional links to real life events as they stand in 2020.
The movie stars Siobhán (Hermione Corfield), who is a marine biology student and a bit of a loner. Forced to spend a few days on a fishing trawler as part of her course, she doesn’t exactly make friends with the crew.
Not helped by her red hair which is seen a bad omen by some of the superstitious crew. Regardless, she is welcomed aboard as the husband and wife owners, Gerard (Dougray Scott) and Freya (Connie Nielson) need the money.
Siobhán’s role on the boat is simply to study the fishermen’s catch for any anomalies. So they set sail off the west coast of Ireland, told by the coastguard to stay out of a specific stretch of water.
Gerard ignores that order and while sailing through the exclusion zone, the boat stops dead in the water. Siobhán goes under the water to investigate and discovers unusual creatures that have attached themselves to the hull.
The ship now free and able to continue, the crew are happy but Siobhán is uneasy. As it will turn out, for good reason as a mysterious infection begins to run rife through the crew.
Tension. That is what Sea Fever does very well and many of its scenes will stick in the mind long afterwards. A small, enclosed boat with characters where fear and paranoia begin to run rampant as well as some being heavily superstitious, creates many an uncomfortable scene. Played well by a strong cast with Hermione Corfield standing out thanks to her characters growth.
From a quiet and lacking in social awareness character to an authoritative and commanding lead. The facing down of an unknown virus and making difficult decisions for all, against their wishes, makes her a very likeable character.
What Sea Fever doesn’t do so well is pay all of this off. While not objectively disappointing, the latter part of the movie feels like a really missed opportunity. Leaving far too much mystery behind and not enough answers. That is likely to leave a sour taste in some viewer’s mouths.
The Final Score - 6/10