It’s well-acted and reasonably intelligent, but also derivative enough to compare unfavorably to plenty of stone-cold classics.
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It’s a low-budget effort with high ambitions, something that’s hard not to admire, and while it often feels like the teaser for a bigger and better movie, it’s perhaps a sign that Hardiman is setting sail for Hollywood next.
Sea Fever proves better in concept than in execution, let down by a second act of fumbled editing and slackened tension.
Writer-director Neasa Hardiman’s film is undone by earnestness.
And suddenly, amid the claustrophobic compositions and shadowy hallways and tick-tick-tick of inevitable sickness, Sea Fever goes from being a monster movie to an eerily timed example of pandemic horror. Coming to a TV screen in a near you in the middle of a quarantine, this exercise in it-came-from-below suddenly takes on a whole other level of resonance.
It’s all very resonant stuff, performed by an earnest and committed cast. But Sea Fever speeds through these turns of plot as if to check them off a list, with characters dropping dead before they’ve had a chance to earn our sympathy.
Hardiman takes special care to ensure her narrative is steeped in real world plausibility.
This is an intimate film with grand ideas, a small boat floating on a giant ocean, and the extraordinary discovery at the heart of the narrative is outweighed by the sense as a filmgoer that we’re seeing a talented director coming to the surface, sticking her tendrils in, and reshaping our expectations as we’re taken along for the journey.
Despite some overly literal tributes to the films that inspired it (namely Alien, Jaws, and The Thing), Sea Fever’s vision of humanity’s insignificance in the face of nature is exactly the sort of awe-inspiring message some of us need to hear right now.
The initial draw of Sea Fever might be as a monster movie, but this is a profoundly humane and humanist film whose ideas stays with you longer than the nightmares.