We’re in a moment where many properties seem prescient in ways not initially intended. Sea Fever’s personal and ethical dilemmas would have been relevant at any time, but they resonate even more in this moment of quarantine.
Debuting on demand and digital April 10, Sea Fever is a claustrophobic slow burn that’s intriguing and emotionally rich with a strong cast.
Think brooding, quiet science fiction/horror, sort of built on a template like The Thing’s but concerned more with a humanistic meditation.
Hermione Corfield, memorable as the unfortunate girl in the record shop in Mission Impossible: Rouge Nation, shoulders the lead here amid a seasoned cast. She’s Siobhán, a marine biology doctoral student thrust aboard an Irish trawler for a week of research.
She’s a bit emotionally detached in the midst of a close-knit crew. They’re headed by the financially strapped Gerard and Freya (Dougray Scott and Connie Nielsen). The crew’s been together long enough to feel like family and to have family-like friction amid genuine concern for one another.
They’re generally welcoming but a bit dismayed when Siobhán uncovers her red hair. Red hair and the sea don’t mix well, according to sailor’s superstition, but her check’s already been deposited.
Once at sea, the ship receives word of an off-limits area. After plotting a course around it, they encounter an initially lovely undersea glow. That glow turns out not to be the legendary tresses of an undersea maiden of which Freya speaks. They’re extensions from something that lies deeper, and they’re soon attached to the ship’s hull and impeding progress. Oh, and the radio gets knocked out by the upheaval.
Siobhán’s equipped for diving, so she’s pressed into a dip to free the ship. She manages but not before the extensions have pumped tiny intruders into the ship’s water supply.
Drama builds and tempers flare and the science-minded Siobhán must advocate for a pragmatic approach. They don’t know what they have, so what if they take it back to shore? Does that sound prescient and familiar? The film’s destined to be a great conversation-starter around shut-in coffee tables.
The initial encounter with the sea creature is engaging and dramatic. The build toward the denouement is a little less intense, though tempers flare at times. The crew’s a diverse, refreshing mix. We don’t have any clichéd types nor even any pure a-holes aboard just to provide conflict. They’re all, well, ordinary seamen and women.
Don’t expect an explosive battle of an ending. Despite the fantastical set up, Sea Fever is grounded in realism or a sense of realism with a sensitive yet unflinching point of view.
Check it out as a meditation on why bad things happen and what the proper course might be when they do.
Wicked Rating: 8/10
Director: Neasa Hardiman
Writer: Neasa Hardiman
Starring: Hermione Corfield, Connie Nielsen, Dougray Scot, , Gavin Stenhouse, Wil Wheaton.
Release: April 10, 2020 (Digital and On Demand)
Runtime: 90 minutes
Sidney Williams is an author and comics writer. He’s a former full-time journalist and has conducted hundreds of celebrity interviews.