Directed and Written by #NeasaHardiman
Film Review by Jack Bottomley
At the opening of the classic Star Trek television series, William Shatner’s James T. Kirk would say that space was the final frontier, however we need look no further than our very own seas to discover new worlds. In a year where the final 20th Century Fox production (before the mighty Disney claimed control) in William Eubank’s underrated Underwater rebirthed the aquatic horror genre, by submerging the cinematorium into the otherworldly and rather alien depths of the sea, so too does Sea Fever.
This Irish horror/thriller from writer/director #NeasaHardiman, who makes her feature film directorial debut, had its English premiere at this year’s #StarburstInternationalFilmFestival and it is one to wait for when it receives its hopeful release next month (possibly now on digital thanks to that bloody virus!!). Unlike Underwater, this movie holds back on the spectacle in favour of a refreshingly restrained film that blends seafaring myth with gory body horror.
The plot centres on a group of fishermen, who set off for their latest haul, among them is a science student who aims to research patterns of - and potentially new - sea life, but soon the ship is delayed by an unknown presence and the crew begin battling new strain of parasite that threatens their lives.
While evoking 1989’s Leviathan on some fronts, this is a story that is commendably pulled back, obvious The Thing and Alien comparisons can be made, but unlike others in the genre (Deepstar Six, Virus), this nautical nightmare refrains from a showy climax or monster movie set pieces. As a matter of fact, the film keeps its mysterious beast largely in the dark depths. In fact Sea Fever has an eco-driven edge, as its "monster" is more a powerful force of nature surviving mankind than being out to get us.
This film shows how we disturb the natural world and stray into places we shouldn’t and as a result, we awaken deadly forces beyond our comprehension. There is a touch of The Abyss about it but with far more brutality, as the crew engage in a fight for survival against an aggressive strain of parasite on board. Tensions flair amongst the characters, as this strange strain worsens, and the film neatly folds in maritime Irish mythology and superstition, as Hardiman focuses more on the building enveloping desperation, than wowing us with effects or monster mash carnage.
That being said, this is a very well crafted film, the sets are superb and really bring you into the stranded at sea setting, as does #RuairíOBrien’s cinematography, and this set’s confined nature makes the plot’s manic outlines (harnessed from its roster of characters whom are mostly nearing psychological breakage) really spread. Additionally the special effects put to use do have ethereal quality and make this creature a quite impressive creation onscreen, and one to add to the aquatic horror’s lineage of intriguing oceanic organisms. While #ChristofferFranzén’s scoring does its job nicely, in fuelling the overall atmosphere.
Young #HermioneCorfield (The Last Jedi) as researcher science student Siobhán leads the film well, alongside some more veteran stars in Wonder Woman’s #ConnieNielsen and Mission: Impossible 2’s #DougrayScott. And there is good supporting turns by Mandy’s #OlwenFouéré and Greyzone's #ArdalanEsmaili.
Overall, this is one doomed voyage that gets its hooks into you and an entry into a fast resurfacing sub-genre that stands out. Sea Fever is a real catch!