Sea Fever is an Irish horror about a crew of sailors who happen across something sinister off the coast of the West of Ireland. Will the film sink or swim?
The film opens up with young scientist Siobhán (Hermione Corfield). She is something of an introvert and doesn’t work well with others. This is unfortunate for her because to finish her work she has to join a crew so as a way to force her into the outside world her professor send her to the West of Ireland.
There she meets the crew of the Niamh Cinn Óir. They’re a motley bunch if not somewhat superstitious. When they find out she is a redhead they believe it to be a dark omen. I looked this up and it’s a legitimate superstition that fishermen have.
There’s Johnny (Hickey) and his aunt Ciara (Fouéré), Omid (Esmaili) and Sudi (Bouakaze), and the captain Gerard (Scott) and his wife Freya (Nielsen). They’re clearly a close-knit group but there is tension underneath the surface. Gerard owes money to most of the crew and he and Freya could lose their boat if they don’t bring in a decent haul soon.
This is not helped when a monumental opportunity is dropped on their laps and the area is quarantined. It becomes what is known as an exclusion zone, meaning no entry. With this in mind the crew head elsewhere. Where they head though ultimately leads to disastrous results.
Choppy Waters ahead
What Sea Fever nails is a sense of the fear of the sea itself. From the cinematography to the score the film filled me with dread. There are dangers in this ocean for the crew of the Niamh Cinn Óir and you are on constant edge as the danger ramps up throughout the course of the film. This horror is further enhanced by quite a high level of gore. One particular scene sticks in my mind and it felt similar to the dinner scene in Alien. That’s right folks there’s a John Hurt scene in this film.
My favourite aspect of this film had to be the authenticity of it. Thanks to director Neasa Hardiman and her hardworking crew this film doesn’t look like a polished modern Hollywood horror with all the blood drained out. Instead, it feels like a down and dirty story of something horrifying happening to normal everyday people and that is where the true horror comes from. This feels like it could happen.
Sea Fever or Sea Sick
Sea Fever gets a lot right. The tension is palpable. The score is ominous but sadly the film does lose something when it comes to its characters. Though the cast is giving it their all, Corfield’s Siobhán’s is a particular character with a commendable level of conviction there are several hiccoughs.
Dougray Scott is decent as the less than respectable captain but he kept taking me out of the film with his unusual accent choice. It was like listening to a radio on one frequency for the cast and then when Scott started to talk I had to tune the frequency of the radio all over again. It was annoying.
The film clearly pulls inspiration from films like Alien, The Abyss and The Thing which drains its originality because its taking story beats from iconic moments in the genre it has joined.
Then comes the biggest issue which is sadly the budget of the film. If this had a decent budget to really show off the horrors of the deep like Hardiman and the crew are clearly going for it be an even better film. Unfortunately, we only get the same shots repeated over and over again with diminishing returns, unfortunately. Luckily the film has enough atmosphere to compensate.
The importance of Sea Fever & Sci-fi in general
When I was watching Sea Fever there was a moment where I realised that director Hardiman had hit on something. The theme of isolation and how we need to listen in times of great danger for the greater good. There are times when we need to understand these lessons and most people don’t.
That’s why stories like Sea Fever need to be told because people will watch this engaging film and see the underlying themes and hopefully will learn a lesson from them.
Check out Sea Fever if you have a chance it’s a restrained horror with a lot of personality. Sea Fever is available on VOD platforms from Friday 24th April.
Check it out when you get the chance and stay tuned to Scannain for more reviews, news, and interviews.