Film Review: Sea Fever (On Volta and Amazon Prime)

Review By Frances Winston

Directed by: Neasa Hardiman – Starring: Connie Nielsen, Hermione Corfield, Dougray Scott, Olwen Fouéré, Jack Hickey, Ardalan Esmaili, Elie Bouakaze

Streaming now on Volta and Amazon Prime

I have to admit that when I first saw trailers for this, I thought it was incredibly ambitious. Yes, it is essentially an international co-production, but it is from the imagination of Irish writer and director, Hardiman, and it has to be said that, in Ireland, we don’t have a good track record with sci-fi thrillers, which is the genre this places itself in.

However, this is so much more than that. Corfield plays Siobhan – a young PhD student, who has to join the crew of a fishing boat in order to collect samples for her studies.

However, when the vessel stalls, she dives down to find a mysterious creature attached to the ship. As the crew start to get struck down, she realises that it has infiltrated the boat in the form of deadly parasitic larvae.

As they try and find a way to destroy the unwanted guests, the various crew members are not happy at the thoughts of quarantining themselves in case they are infected, leading to dissension in the ranks, and people’s true colours coming to the fore.

Scott’s Irish accent is a bit iffy to say the least. But outside of that, he gives a good performance as Gerard, the captain of the doomed boat. Corfield is great as the naïve and nervous science student, and acting legend, Olwen Fouéré, absolutely radiates in every scene she is in.

Indeed, all the cast do a great job, although the dialogue is sometimes clunky and repetitive – the superstition about red heads on fishing vessels will be imprinted on your brain you hear it that often!

I think calling this a sci-fi thriller is misleading. It is actually more of a horror-thriller, or a creature-feature – and a pretty good one. Although made before the current lockdown, many of the themes will resonate given our current worldwide situation.

Hardiman has done a wonderful job of creating a claustrophobic atmosphere, and has included plenty of jump out of your seat moments. The pacing is great, and the suspense builds beautifully, and overall this will keep you glued.

On a less positive note, it is extremely dark (literally) to the extent it is sometimes difficult to see what is going on (and I adjusted brightness settings several times), which is a bad thing on the small screen, although it may have worked for the cinema release. There are also some clunky scenes that don’t necessarily work, and, at times, it is predictable, due to a certain amount of telegraphing. It also could probably push its premise further.

No doubt people will assume that this is a direct response to Cornoavirus, despite being written and produced before lockdown. But forget about any parallels, and just enjoy this gripping and imaginative flick.

Hardiman has proved that it’s possible to make a thrilling movie like this on an extremely low budget, and one can only imagine what she could have done with more money. She has set the bar amongst Irish filmmakers for this kind of offering.

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