Neasa Hardiman (director)
06 March 2020 (released)
21 March 2020
Superstitious folk are seafarers (just take a banana on a sea faring boat and see the reaction) and there’s a fair amount of lore and myth of the sea in Sea Fever. That’s plain from the off when student Siobhán (Hermione Corfield) takes off her beanie to reveal her red hair in front of the crew declaring it a bad omen. Not that she is that keen to be there herself. Siobhan is a brilliant student who prefers the lab to anything else but to complete her course she has to go to sea on a field trip.
The trawler moored off the west coast of Ireland owned by husband and wife Gerard (Dougary Scott) and Freya (Connie Nielson) need the money so agree to take Siobhán out with them as times are hard. The vessel is a mess with engineer Johnny (Jack Hickey) patching things up as best he can and with Siobhán something of an engineer herself, they strike up a sort of friendship. Which is just as well as she is reluctant to socialise with the crew much preferring her books and laptop.
Out at sea the sighting of whales should be a good omen but because of the industrial nature of that area of water, they shouldn’t be there. Also the ship has moved away from their original route, into an exclusion zone. The boat hits something which affects the hull which is changing, and leaking blue goo. Things get more suspicious when luminous jellyfish/squid type creatures attach themselves to the hull, only to discover that they are part of a much larger creature.
All very suspicious and when they spy another ship on boarding it, they find the crew dead. Added to this something has contaminated the drinking water, with nasty results. As the bodies start to collect in the ship’s freezer, paranoia and illness take hold, and Siobhán - still very much the outsider – puts forward what are logical but unacceptable proposals regarding the crew and the creature.
There’s a predictability about Sea Fever that makes it unsatisfying and with the pacing ultimately frustrating as there’s a good story here from writer/director Neasa Hardiman. The trouble is rather than ratchet up the tension the slow burn just ends up being slow and it was difficult to remain engaged at times. However Hardiman does a good job of translating the camaraderie that the crew share, as well as the isolation and claustrophobia of quite a small vessel.
Full marks to the cast who are on fine form. It’s unfair to pick anyone out but Scott and Nielson are convincing, while Corfield digs deep with the insular complicated Siobhán to reveal an interesting more rounded character than might initially have promised.
Sea Fever was presented at Glasgow FrightFest on 6 March 2020.