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‘Sea Fever’ Review: Fear is Contagious

Step Aside ‘Alien’, There’s a New Kind of Shero on Screen

My love for good (and bad) horror movies is no secret. It was pure luck that I happened upon “Sea Fever” while searching through my On Demand Movie options the other night. I nearly scrolled right past it, assuming it was just another B-movie option, and I was on the hunt for something that would quench my appetite for a real thrill. A show that would make me stop multitasking for an evening, close my computer, and really tune in to watch. It had been a while.

It was the words, “Award Winner,” that caught my eye as I was scrolling through my On Demand options for another evening of quarantine entertainment. Horror flicks have only recently begun to receive recognition from those who deem movies to be worthy of awards. In all fairness, “Sea Fever” straddles both the horror and sci-fi genres, but the fact that it had won a Cannes Frontières post-production award, slowed and then reversed my scroll.

Figuring I had little to lose, I hit “rent” and prepared to half-watch/half-work for the rest of the night. To my surprise, just a short way into the movie, my computer was shut down, and I was hooked.

“Sea Fever” has been compared to “Alien” by multiple reviewers. And while I appreciate and use the comparison myself, there were several things that made this movie stand out from the former. Most importantly, the female protagonist is far from being anything like the heroic, flame thrower-wielding, alien ass-kicking Ellen Ripley.

Siobhán (Hermione Corfield) is a somewhat nerdy, socially awkward marine biology student working on her doctorate who is given the chance to get her head out of her books and get her hands dirty doing some real research on an Irish fishing trawler called the Niamh Cinn-Óir (the name has roots in Irish mythology and means Golden-Haired Niamh),which is owned and operated by a married couple named Gerard and Freya (Dougray Scott and Connie Nielsen).

Our protagonist doesn’t receive a warm welcome upon boarding the fishing boat. At first sight she looks young, soft and unprepared for the hardships of sea life. And she soon finds out her long, red hair is thought to be a bad omen.

A book worm, who spends the first nights at sea studying, Siobhan’s expertise quickly becomes useful to her crew mates when a large squid-like form of sea life attaches its tentacles to to the vessel where they begin to eat through the hull and ooze a blue substance which viewers and cast alike soon find out is infecting the crew.

There’s no doubt that this movie it timely. Watching while in the midst of the Covid -19 pandemic may seem like a bad idea. And I’ll be honest, I’ve been avoiding movies about pandemics and contagions alike, as I feel no need to feed the specific fears associated with the coronavirus and all of its unknowns. But there’s something about “Sea Fever” that separates it from the typical “pandemic/contagion” thriller.

Similar to the “The Thing” as opposed to “Aliens”, “Sea Fever’s” characters aren’t polished or caricatures of typical character types you’d expect to find in this kind of movie. They are raw and real. People you’d expect to meet if you went on a fishing expedition. The heroes and villains of this tale aren’t entirely obvious, even when it comes to the sea “monster” that has infected some of the crew.

This again is where “Alien” and “Sea Fever” are very different. This movie plays with the viewer’s sense of right and wrong which are easily confused as themes of environmentalism and and proper methods of containing contagions are all wrapped together in an isolated setting.

I promise this flick will keep you on the edge of your seat for it’s entirety. It reveals a new take on what a shero of a story can look like and leaves you with a whole lot to think about while stuck at home for days.

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Annette Benedetti
Annette Benedetti
Annette is a writer, editor and photographer from Portland, OR. Her work appears in a variety of publications including Bust, Red Tricycle, Motherly and Domino. When she’s away from her desk she can be found teaching women yoga at wilderness retreats, exploring new cities across the states and hiking the trails at Mt. Rainier—one of her favorite places on earth.
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