I imagine the initial pitch for Sea Fever went something like, “We want to prove the ancient superstition that redheads really are bad luck on boats.” Pippi Longstocking would probably disagree, however, bad stuff happened on her boat too…
Right off the bat I can see the excellent character chemistry complimented by good blocking. I’m not too familiar with Neasa Hardiman’s work, but I hope she does more thrillers like this in the future. I love her perspective and what she is saying through Sibohan’s character. Films with restricted locations can only do so much, but the way the characters move around each other simultaneously with the camera makes you feel like the boat’s space is much bigger than it is, yet still very confined. The use of space creates an uncomfy atmosphere that adds to the horror elements. Throughout the film, you kind of know when stuff is coming up, but not in a campy way. It feels like you’re watching a thriller with some gore sprinkled in to remind you what kind of ride you’re really on.
Sibohan is a scientist sent out to sea with a group of trawlers to study their findings. She is met with uneasy welcomes as each crew member meets her and points out that she is bad luck with her red hair. Sibohan, who normally keeps to herself, has a hard time socializing with the crew and this goes on for the first half of the movie. It isn’t until a large creature with tentacles latches onto the boat and starts infiltrating that she finds her voice and starts taking action. This is where the story seemingly kicks off. I wish I could say a slew of scary things happen, but the crew members are inevitably picked off one by one, getting less scary as it goes. That’s not to say this is a bad thing, but there isn’t much else to the plot. The end is only kind of moving, but definitely anticlimactic in every way. This is pretty much the only aspect that is muddy. It’s not the most solid script; it’s more simplistic and not balls to the wall slapstick horror. I was waiting for shit to hit the fan but it never really does, as each thing kind of just happens on its own at a very realistic pace. I don’t want to discredit that, but I think maybe we could have amped up the character drama or the horror as they didn’t balance each other out.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Sibohan (Hermione Corfield) is a socially awkward individual who now has to endure a boat excursion with complete strangers who all know each other. She feels pretty animated with how extra awkward she is, but it’s quite rewarding to watch the character open up and take action as she is literally the smartest person on the boat.
The other characters are pretty one dimensional to say the least, and they’re all intimidated by our lead heroine. The co-captain couple Freya (Connie Nielson) and Gerard (Dougray Scott) are irrational and power motivated, as they ignore Sibohan every time she opens her mouth, mostly because she is younger than them I’m assuming. The other crew members, Johnny, Sumid, and Omid are equally as degrading to her and are all basically the same character. Ciara, the oldest crew member is pretty pointless as well. She’s just an angry old woman who makes Sibohan feel welcome only some of the time. I wish I could say something more constructive, but this cast, besides Corfield, wasn’t too inspiring.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The diegetic sounds of the boat tinkering and the water crashing around them is beautiful. I commend the sound designers for not overselling it. The film doesn’t rely on amplified sound design to scare you, it keeps it at a level in which you’d hear it if you were there in real time. The score is subtle and also doesn’t play a huge part in the film, but it’s still there. I didn’t need it to be piercing like I’m watching Lost, but what I’m trying to say is that I fully appreciate the score and sound editing for not scarring my ears every time the film decides I need to be scared. I wish more films figured out how to do this.
The color grading of this film is so pretty. The blue/brown color palette is a no brainer because of the ocean, but I think every visual department whether on set in production design, costumes, or in post, tied it all together nicely. I love that the boat is all rusty and old, making the set feel gross and adding that element of fear. Dying on a dingy boat that feels like an old cabin in the woods is how you instill fear into me. Inside the bridge feels super comfortable and homey, which is where Freya and Gerard like to assert their dominance, so it makes sense it feels like their living room.
"She’s Immortal... Her Hair Lights Up The Sea"
It could be said that the film is a little horror about a glowy fish under the sea that makes folks explode from the inside. I’d go even further to say that it’s a great cautionary tale, one that many people could deeply relate to right now in terms of spreading a disease and not listening to scientists when they suggest quarantine. Sea Fever is definitely a fitting choice for these dark times which is available on VOD now!