They say that movie themes come in waves, and recently we’ve seen a stirring towards mankind’s fear of the ocean.
Where Underwater trended towards more action fare, and The Lighthouse skewed more towards psychological avant garde, Sea Fever is ironically more grounded in its descent into the murky depths of the brine.
Director Neasa Hardiman has carved a remarkable career so far with hard hitting British series’ Scott & Bailey and Happy Valley, so she’s been attuned to gritty drama and with two of her leads Connie Nielsen and Dougray Scott she finds actors who know their mettle, crafting subtle nuanced performances that equally tap into intensity.
In her sophomore feature outing in the directors chair, Hardiman hones her virtuosity further, in this deeply engaging tale of a fishing trailer crew who embark into an exclusion zone where they encounter a parasitic infection.
The film’s release is indeed timely as the crew are forced into isolation as they come to terms with this new life form that infests them one by one whilst scrambling to defend themselves from this unknown entity.
The story is told from the point of view of introvert Siobhan (Hermione Corfield), a scientist who has been studying faunal behavioural patterns given the opportunity to join the crew.
Corfield also more than holds her own adding the heart and mind of the film that adds weight and a voice of reason amongst the insanity.
A loner from the outset, Siobhan is further isolated from a superstitious company, especially upon learning that she is a redhead, a bad omen among fishermen.
The tide soon turns however, as the crew search for her expertise throughout their encounter in the hopes that she will be their guiding light.
The heightened sense of distrust, lack of patience, lethargy and sadness intensifies the tension further, which tempers the notion of cabin fever amongst them all and us as the audience.
This pandemic horror under the guise of a monster film harbours an intense feeling of claustrophobia and paranoia fueled by the necessity to survive.
The creature effects when used are refined and intricately well played out for what is essentially a low budget feature.
Not surprisingly there are nods to similar sci-fi films such as Alien and more notably The Thing, embedded with a Lovecraftian vibe at times, but Hardiman also bends the subject with her own voice and tone that allows the characters and the storyline to breathe in a claustrophobic world, churning out a thrilling and encapsulating narrative.
- Saul Muerte
This film is currently available to rent via Sydney Film Festival until June 21.