Written and Directed by Neasa Hardiman
Starring Hermoine Corfield, Connie Nielsen, Dougray Scott, Jack Hickey, Ardalan Esmaili, Elie Bouakaze, Olwen Fouéré
For those unfamiliar with Alien or, better John Carpenter’s The Thing, Sea Fever will be a surprise. The premise is similar: an unfamiliar and phenomenal force invades a small group of people who are isolated, and begins to pick them off in a variety of ways. This time, a fishing trawler run by Captains Gerard and Freya (Scott and Nielsen) have taken on a young college student Siobhán (Corfield) along with them so she can study deep sea faunal behavioral patterns. Yep, it’s a mouthful, and it will come in handy.
They have a crew of 6, a few of which are daunted by the prospect of having a red headed girl on board with them. Bad luck, some say. The luck is definitely tilted downward when Gerard takes the boat into the exclusion zone, which is unpatrolled by the Coast Guard. After a few nights, the boat is stopped in its tracks. They find that the boat’s wall composition is changed in spots where it is being held. Once they convince Siobhán to go down, take a look, then possibly cut them free, they find it’s something akin to a luminescent and giant squid. It’s more than that, to be sure.
From here the story takes a few different turns, none of them good for the folks on the boat. A visit to another nearby boat reveals something horrible. Still, the crew is pushed on, especially once the creature lets go of the boat and they score a big load of fish.
The acting in this film is good throughout. Nielsen and Scott seem overqualified for their roles, which don’t demand much more than compounding bad decisions and adding ritualistic prayer when bad things occur. Of the crew, Esmaili’s Omid leaves the biggest impression. His decisions balance the increasing panic with calm support of our lead.
Corfield is excellent in the lead, as someone who goes from a joke to lifeline. She doesn’t act like a stud. She acts like an educated and conscientious woman who wants to stop things from getting worse. She’s been in a lot of things I have seen, yet I only remember her as the Record Shop employee in MI: Rogue Nation. This performance makes one look forward to her current television project We Hunt Together or the upcoming movie The Misfits.
Hardiman’s skill is in setting scene and letting silence play a necessary role in creating dread. She is not afraid to let the story stand on its own. If anything, the quiet makes some of the death scenes more unsettling, while avoiding having more unnecessary special effects. There is a certain lack of understanding overall what the existential threat is supposed to be, but it’s all pretty ominous for its mystery.
(***1/2 out of *****)