Never before has the idea of an horror/eco-thriller centered on a parasite been scarier. Hell, just leaving your house can feel like entering a fright flick. So, Sea Fever is either coming this week at the best possible, or worst possible, time. Luckily, if this sort of title interests you, it’s a quality film, offering up a familiar, though well crafted, take on a small group fighting for survival against an unknown entity. Coming to On Demand platforms at the end of the week, it will certainly hit the spot if you’re looking for a genre effort to unsettle you, especially one of this sort.
The film is a mix of horror and thriller, with some science fiction thrown in for good measure. For the grizzled crew of a trawler out on the seas west of Ireland, the arrival of Siobhan (Hermione Corfield) is greeted with indifference, or, considering her red hair and the nautical fear of bad luck when around redheads, something closer to hostility. She’s a doctoral candidate in Marine Biology, completing her PhD studies by accompanying a commercial fishing boat and studying any abnormalities that may be found. Well, she sure finds one, when the vessel’s captain Gerard (Dougray Scott) and his wife Freya (Connie Nielsen) opt to take the boat into restricted waters. Sure, they find tons of fish, but also are latched on to by a gigantic creature, disabling the trawler. As the smaller, parasite like, entities of the monster enter the ship, the risk of infection mixes with the terror of never being found. A fight for survival ensues. Neasa Hardiman writes and directs, with the small cast also including Elie Bouakaze, Ardalan Esmaili, Olwen Fouéré, and Jack Hickey. Christoffer Franzén composes the score, while cinematography is by Ruairí O’Brien.
For better and worse, this movie wears its horror and sci-fi influences on its sleeve (though mostly for better). The Abyss, Alien, The Thing, and more, all are homaged at various points. Filmmaker Neasa Hardiman never calls overt attention to any of it, but it’s impossible not to notice, if you’re familiar with any of those classic works. There’s even a strong female lead at the center of it all in Hermione Corfield, who will be a star one day (just look at Rust Creek from last year for ample evidence of that). The plot moves as expected, but in a way, that’s part of its charm.
Sea Fever doesn’t ever soar to the level of being a top tier genre effort, but it’s all handled competently and effectively enough to get the job done. Hardiman focuses as much as possible on the cast and their tension filled interactions, as opposed to the mysterious creature. Some of that is obviously due to budgetary restraints, but it’s also a creative choice, designed to raise the human stakes. It never becomes a monster movie, even if there’s a monster/monsters involved. The tense nature of it all rests on the characters being in over their head, the threat of the unknown, and the likelihood that they’re completely on their own.
This weekend, Sea Fever would love to creep you out. If you’re up for a parasitic centered fright flick, this is a very solid one. If you’re not, that’s completely understandable. For those in the latter category, disregard this recommendation. Those in the former, however, have this movie to give a shot to. It may not be better than the films that came before it, but it’s still worthy of my thumbs up. Give it a look and see what you think…
Be sure to check out Sea Fever, available on VOD this Friday!
(Photos courtesy of Gunpowder & Sky)