Siobhán's a marine biology student who prefers spending her days alone in a lab. She has to endure a week on a ragged fishing trawler, where she's miserably at odds with the close-knit crew. But out in the deep Atlantic, an unfathomable life form ensnares the boat. When members of the crew succumb to a strange infection, Siobhán must overcome her alienation and anxiety to win the crew's trust, before everyone is lost.
Being an Irish queen myself (emphasis on queen, being a raging homo and everything), I will throw myself at any opportunity to get watching some local horror films, given how much American and sometimes British horror dominate the genre. There is a certain flare and fines that Irish genre films embody, and often mimic local folklore that have been roaming the country for decades. Films such as The Hole In The Ground and The Hallow play up to this with hugely effective and haunting results, tapping in to realist horror that hybrids supernatural elements. Sea Fever may not be directly (or even remotely) inspired by Irish folklore, but certainly plays out as if with deep inspiration, crafting an overall experience that is efficacious, regardless of its apparent identity crisis.
Think Underwater meets The Thing, with a splice of Cabin Fever, but picture on this on a big old rusty boat, and that's essentially Sea Fever. Whilst its not an exact cumulation of these movies, and undeniably plays out to the beat of its own tune, there are definitely elements of each scattered throughout, not always borrowing from these films most successful aspects. Sea Fever is essentially a pandemic body horror with a minimalistic thriller coating, it takes its time to fully develop its intriguing narrative with some truly neat elements of horror thrown in. It is consistent with its pace which can be to its detriment, as its starts at a walking pace and never really builds up to anything truly suspenseful.
Yes, director and writer Neasa Hardiman delivers a few note-worthy moments that had be undeniably hooked and equally grossed out by its wonderfully crafted gore (delivering some eye-poppingly good gore, if you know you know), but I often found myself wanting more. That is the greedy bottom in me I can admit, but when those moments of horror took the forefront Sea Fever really shined, and I found myself so engrossed in this world Hardiman created. Towards the end of the mid-way point however, Sea Fever begins to sink closer towards melodrama than thriller territory, which is the direction I feel would have been a more successful route to take. Its portrayal on its own pandemic themes is done well, and the characters angst is one of the most effective elements of the feature, but ultimately when we reach the end of the narrative's journey, there never really feels like stakes are at risk, despite being told otherwise.
The characters are great, each with their own distinctive personality, but as mentioned before, after the films biggest (and most unexpected) departure, it never really takes flight and ride off the momentum built on that death. Everything from then on passes by with a whimper and we aren't gifted with the gut-punch that we were once promised. A bigger struggle for survival, or for the crew to turn on each other with nastier effects would have been a more fitting way to let the narrative play out, or at least to hit us with an ending along the likes of Life or 28 Weeks Later, in which we are lead to believe there is hope, only to have the rug ripped away but beneath at the last second. I found myself wanting a gut-punch as such, and was left with little Sea Fever blue balls.
Despite all of this however, the story and its execution (sixty percent of the time) really does deliver, and we are introduced to a new monster movie with some serious chops. All the correct ingredients are here, and while they may not all mix together with perfect results, they're all still effective in aiding what is a genuinely interesting film. I can't help but shake the feeling that Hardiman couldn't quite decide what she wanted the film to be, and Sea Fever ends up feeling like it has its little tentacle fingers in too many pies at once.