Written and directed by Irish filmmaker Neasa Hardiman following her work on hit shows Happy Valley, Inhumans and Jessica Jones, Sea Fever is a claustrophobic seafaring thriller that chronicles the ill-fated crew of a fishing trawler who stumble upon a parasite that’s invaded their water supply. A tightly paced and genuinely tense outing from start to finish, this is a small film that’s home to big surprises and insightful – if a little clunky – ecophilosophical quandaries. Though the subject of a deadly, infectious parasite and the importance of self-quarantining might be too close to home during this strange time, there’s nonetheless a very entertaining and unique horror lurking within the gloom.
The voyage begins in the rather standard fashion of introducing viewers to the key players. There’s Siobhán (Hermione Corfield), an introverted marine biology student set to join a crew for a week’s excursion, Gerard (Dougray Scott) and Freya (Connie Nelson), the doomed vessel’s owners, who are going through financial difficulties. And then there’s the rest of the crew, who we don’t get to learn much about outside of the few character traits exhibited in the first act. Thankfully, though, we don’t need to worry about things becoming stagnant as the ship is soon ensnared by the tendrils of a mysterious, bioluminescent creature which secretes slime through the hull.
From here on in, Hardiman increases the tension as the crew struggle to understand what’s happening. Reinforced by the cramped yet isolated setting and invasive cinematography that’s almost entirely composed of close-ups, the danger is palpable. Slowly but surely, events continue to escalate until they explode in an eye-popping (and very gruesome) fashion.
With events in full swing, the script is free to burrow into its more intriguing points. But with only half of the runtime left, there isn’t enough room for these issues to expand beyond the humanity vs. nature clichés that have been explored countless times before. However, with the focus now switched from the mystery of the parasite to controlling the infection, the plot never loses its momentum.
Unfortunately, the film’s climax isn’t able to live up to the mounting build-up. The ending feels somewhat rushed, and as the surviving crew members aren’t given much depth, their fates seem unearned, consequently weakening the impact of the closing shot. Some may be let down by the fact that the monster isn’t explained, but thanks to an intriguing script delivered by great central performances, Sea Fever is feverish B-Movie fun.
Sea Fever is released digitally on demand on 24th April 2020.
Watch the trailer for Sea Fever here: