The unknown fathoms of the sea is all that stands between an ordinary Irish fishing crew and their return home. However, as Neasa Hardiman’s Sea Fever reminds us, a life far from shore is rarely that simple. Horrors creep just below the surface, and sometimes nature is cruel enough to let us know that a watery grave may be calling our names.
Sea Fever is an Irish-made thriller that follows doctoral student Siobhán (Hermione Corfield) as she joins the crew of a fishing trawler in order to gain some much-needed time in the field to continue her research on marine life. There she meets Freya (Connie Nielsen) and her husband Gerard (Dougray Scott), who both own the boat and are in command of the fishing expedition.
Days into the journey, and the vessel ventures into an uncharted stretch of water, where they collide into a bioluminescent entity, the likes of which no one has ever seen. Unusual occurrences lead to dire consequences when the creature latches onto the fishing boat and the crew become stranded. Up to this point, Siobhán has went out of her way to maintain her solitude; she is all but forced to step outside her comfort zone and employ her knowledge of the sea in order to help Freya, Gerard and the rest of the crew dispel the creature and find land once again, all while trying to keep the sea fever— a type of madness common to those who spend prolonged time on the ocean—at bay.
Soon, the entity finds its way into their precious-and limited-water supply, and one by one the crew members begin to die of a parasite that seems to be infecting someone new every few hours. The once safe space of the boat is now a claustrophobic prison; everyone is paranoid, and everyone is scared. No one knows how they can survive the attacks of a creature that has remained undiscovered, a creature that is as odd as it is deadly.
Also starring Jack Hickey, Ardalan Esmaili, Olwen Fouéré, and Elie Bouakaze, Sea Fever is a film reminiscent of cult classics The Thing and Jaws, twisting humanity’s innate belief that we are in control and capable of outwitting Mother Nature and all her creatures, only to be reminded once again how wrong we are. Hermione Corfield gives a strong performance as the bright yet solitary student, demonstrating her subtle ability to keep viewers enticed as Siobhán slowly emerges from her shell when the realisation that it is she who can rescue the determined, ignorant crew finally strikes. Hopefully, she will be rewarded with opportunities to display her talent on a larger scale.
It is clear that Neasa Hardiman knows what she is doing, and perhaps she will get the opportunity to direct a blockbuster thriller in the near future. While not startlingly original, the film is a unique blend of slow-burn suspense turned horror, as well as offering a subtle commentary on the so-called dangers of a rapidly spreading pandemic (Huh. Sounds familiar). The underwater shots are nicely done, capturing the shadowy side of the sea that few get to see, and the reactions of the cast to the mounting inevitability of becoming “infected” escalate at a believable rate. Ten minutes in, Hardiman warns us as to what may happen while out at sea when Siobhán is met with mild hostility upon initial introductions: according to sailor superstitions, it is bad luck to have a redhead on board before beginning a journey. Nevertheless, the film continues on, and the atmosphere, while already ominously grey, grows to be more tense and even bloody. Thus, we are compelled to fulfil another innate characteristic of our species: to see how such a tale will end.
Sea Fever is a film that will have you clamping your hands over your mouth in surprise on certain occasions, and it will certainly leave you wondering just what could be lurking out there the next time you are near the sea.
Sea Fever is out on Blu-Ray and VOD now
by Kacy Hogg
Kacy is an English Lit student living in the Great White North (no not Winterfell unfortunately), Canada. Her favorite films include the Harry Potter series, Cinderella, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Hangover, and Lady Bird. She’s also an avid binge-watcher of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. You can follow her on Twitter here: @KacHogg95