Sea Fever

 

                In a time of pandemic, it’s an eerie kind of foreshadowing, as the crew on an isolated Irish fishing trawler finds itself infected, with the resultant controversy over whether to try to make it to shore, and thus risk infecting others.

                Except the infection comes not from a virus, but from a misplaced sea creature.  It seems their excursion into a “forbidden zone” of the ocean (presumably because of whale habitat preservation) produced an unwelcome passenger, a parasitic-type of giant squid that’s attached itself to the hull of the ship.

                The problem is that whatever this sea creature is, it produces larvae that enter the human body through any kind of cut, and then the larvae quickly consume their “host” from the inside.  Yep, it’s pretty gruesome, as we would expect this genre of “horror movie” to be.  But at least this one, rather than merely indulging in emotional gore, at least presents us with some cerebral aspects in its screenplay.

                It seems the newest member of the crew, Siobhan (Hermione Corfield) is a shy young grad student researcher, who’s reluctantly agreed to come along on this voyage because her professor insisted that she needs to do some real field work in her specialty, which happens to involve marine biology. 

                However, the rest of the crew members treat her like a pariah, because they’re superstitious about a redhead on a ship.  (Is that an Irish thing?)  Director and Writer Neasa Hardiman attempts to develop the crew member characters at first:  the grizzled captain and his hard-boiled wife, who's also the first mate, the engineer who’s constructed his own water purification system, the good-looking bloke who almost provides some romantic interest for Siobhan----but the crew’s interaction quickly becomes subservient to the predator creature, which has somehow managed to infiltrate the fresh water tank, as well as the deck boards.

                They think they’re saved by a passing ship, but it turns out their crew is all dead----it’s assumed from self-inflicted wounds brought about by mass delirium, also known as “Sea Fever” (hence the title).  So now we return to the horror genre of crew members succumbing to the infection, one by one, until we’re left with---well, we have to guess, don’t we?  Isn’t that the fun part?

                “Sea Fever” has its flaws, particularly a mushy sound quality, and a desultory, claustrophobic setting, but at least it doesn’t insult the viewer’s intelligence.  And even manages a surprise or two.

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association