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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Review: Sea Fever

Director: Neasa Hardiman
Guion: Neasa Hardiman
Year: 2020

The ocean is one of the big mysteries that keep attracting the attention of scientists because of the great extension that is still unexplored and the secrets it may hold. Horror cinema has used many times its extension and hostile nature to create moments of maximum tension in movies such as “47 Meters Down” and “Open Water”, among many others, and also the lack of knowledge of what the depths may hold has been used to create frightening images, with the most recent in this category being “Underwater”. “Sea Fever” combines the feeling of desolation that comes from being in a place so large and far from civilization with the unknown of what its vast extension may be home to.

A shy science student joins a group of fishermen to gather some data for her research. While they are on the boat, some tentacles attach to its walls and anchor it in the middle of the ocean. Once free, they realize that their water system has been contaminated by some parasites and they must find a way to get rid of them to save their lives.

The movie starts by introducing Siobhán and emphasizing her obsession with working and her lack of social skills. Here we get to know that her research work is related to marine life and that she will be on board a fishing boat to gather some data. In a short period of time, Siobhán is inside the boat and we set sail with her into the open sea, where the rest of the movie takes place. 

Siobhán's personality quickly flourishes and the difficulties she faces to get along with the rest of the crew are shown. Bit by bit we witness how her surroundings modify her character and she manages to give herself the opportunity to interact with the rest of the crew and how she goes from being a shy girl to becoming a leader. The acting of protagonist Hermione Corfield (“Star Wars Episode VIII - The Last Jedi”) is key in showing this change and in that the viewer grows interested in her.

“Sea Fever” is a movie that depends on the acting, plot, and cinematography to create suspense and to attract interest, in both of which it shines. Besides Corfield, the rest of the cast that shares the boat space with her does an exceptional job creating chemistry in the group of fishermen that you will never doubt their relationships. Likewise, the director and screenwriter Neasa Hardiman uses the cinematography to create a feeling of claustrophobia and remind you how desolated the open sea can be.

Hardiman, although in essence presents a creature feature, relies on the idea of being chased by a creature, but all the suspense and movement of the plot comes from the acting and the drama that unfolds among the characters. The creature does have some timely apparitions and the visuals are impressive, but it is not the center of the problem, rather a catalyst that puts movement in the characters’ actions while seeking a way to escape and avoid being infected by the parasite that the creature transmits. Inside the boat, it is the crew who starts creating precarious situations influenced by the parasite, and here I will take advantage to drop my only negative critique to the movie, and is that all those that get infected have different symptoms and reactions, but it lacks an explanation as to why.

“Sea Fever” is, in essence, a creature feature, but most of the plot is developed by the characters onboard the ship and not so much by the creature. The theme of being infected by a parasite and conversations about being quarantined and taking responsibility to avoid infecting others are unexpectedly relevant for the global situation we are currently living because of COVID-19. The well thought off cinematography and the excellent acting are the motors that push the plot, propelled by the imposing presence of a majestic creature whose visuals are used sparingly but timely.

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