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With: Cast: Connie Nielsen, Hermione Corfield, Dougray Scott, Olwen Fouéré, Jack Hickey, Ardalan Esmaili, Elie Bouakaze
Written by: Neasa Hardiman
Directed by: Neasa Hardiman
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 89
Date: 04/10/2020

Sea Fever (2020)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Barnacle Storm

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This eerily timely, well-made sci-fi horror movie provides its share of prickly dread and mysterious creatures, has a smart female scientist hero, and offers interesting themes about quarantining.

In Sea Fever, Siobhán (Hermione Corfield) is a marine biology student who is more comfortable with books than she is with people. Nonetheless, she is assigned to an Irish fishing trawler, to assess the ship's fish haul. When she arrives, her long red hair, a bad omen among sailors, sets off alarm bells with the crew. However, the captain, Gerard (Dougray Scott), and his wife, Freya (Connie Nielsen), head into an off-limits "exclusion zone," where the catch is plentiful, and checks out just fine.

But before long, a strange muck begins to seep through the hull. Siobhán dives in to the water to investigate, assuming it's just barnacles, but finds something far more startling. Worse, a kind of parasite seems to be infecting the crew through the trawler's water supply.

Written and directed by Neasa Hardiman, Sea Fever makes terrific use of its locations, the small trawler and the surrounding ocean, effectively moving back and forth between cramped quarters below and open spaces above. In establishing the main character Siobhán as shy and anti-social, the physical space on the ship around her can become either oppressive or comforting.

Sea Fever is compact and tightly paced, with a clever, enigmatic use of its sea monster. It suggests more than it shows, keeping the intrigue intact. The interesting cast, led by veterans Scott and Nielsen, helps keep things afloat in general. It sometimes feels as if certain elements were cut, such as the concept of Siobhán's red hair being a possible harbinger of bad luck, which is introduced and never brought up again.

Nonetheless, the character comes to life as she overcomes her fears to argue for quarantining the unknown sickness, while others panic and wish to return to civilization; it's a powerfully relevant message.

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