(director/writer: Neasa Hardiman; cinematographer: Ruairí O’Brien; editors: Barry Moen/Julian Ulrichs; music: Christoffer Franzén; cast: Hermione Corfield (Siobhán), Connie Nielsen (Freya), Dougray Scott (Gerard), Olwen Fouéré (Ciara), Jack Hickey (Johnny), Ardalan Esmaili (Omid, engineer below deck), Elie Bouakaze (Sudi); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: John McDonnell/Brendan McCarthy; Gunpowder & Sky; 2019-Ireland/USA/Sweden/Belgium)
“What it has going for it is a dazzling mysterious sea monster.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Sea Fever premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival’s discovery section, where the PR people pitched it as a “Cronenberg meets Cousteau” sea drama.
Irish filmmaker Neasa Hardiman (“This Is Going To Take More Than One Night”), in her feature debut as director-writer, films it as an eerie atmospheric sci-fi/horror thriller set on the sea. Its main fault is that it lacks character development. What it has going for it is a dazzling mysterious sea monster (the real star of the film), who pops up for some scares – it’s “a giant phosphorescent jellyfish with spermatozoa-like tentacles oozing poisonous secretions.”
Our young heroine is Siobhán (Hermione Corfield), a marine biology student, aspiring to get a PhD, who is an all work and no play sort, choosing to spend her days alone in the science lab.
In order to get first-hand experience in her field, the red-haired Siobhán signs onto a fishing trawler that will go out on the Irish Sea. But the crew resent Siobhán because they’re superstitious about having a red haired woman aboard whom they think is likely to bring bad luck.
The trawler’s captain Gerard (Dougray Scott) and his boat owner wife Freyn (Connie Nielsen) are warned at port not to go into an “exclusion zone” so naturally they head straight into the forbidden waters, and the trawler is immediately in contact with a mysterious giant squid-like creature that won’t let go of it with its barnacle-tentacles.
The sea monster spews out a parasitic green goo into the ship that infects the entire crew with a deadly unseen threat.
It’s a derivative Jaws film that could benefit more if its smart concept was carried out with more depth, nevertheless it’s well-crafted and acted (especially by Connie Nielsen & Hermione Corfield).
REVIEWED ON 3/16/2020 GRADE: B-