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  Sea Fever Tentacle Terror
Year: 2019
Director: Neasa Hardiman
Stars: Connie Nielsen, Hermione Corfield, Dougray Scott, Olwen Fouéré, Jack Hickey, Ardalan Esmaili, Dag Malmberg, Elie Bouakaze
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Siobhan (Hermione Corfield) is a student in a lab who prefers to be peering into a microscope than socialising with her colleagues, but her boss has noticed this and instructs her to make an effort to get to know people and not merely stay in her own bubble of interest. Besides, there is the matter of completing her thesis which she must do by joining the crew of a trawler and conducting research there, out off the west coast of Ireland. She is not looking forward to this, but dutifully goes along and arrives at the harbour to discover that crew have misgivings about her from the off, thanks to her mane of red hair, which in seafaring terms is a sure sign of bad luck. She's not bad luck, is she?

Well, something is in writer and director Neasa Hardiman's ocean-set horror flick, as she made her feature debut after a long time toiling in the realm of television, with a few Marvel episodes under her belt and the UK's Happy Valley on her CV. Sea Fever certainly started out well, thanks to an intriguing lead character who is not interested in being liked one iota, a marked difference from many a chiller's heroine: she speaks as she finds, when she can be bothered to speak at all, and gives the impression she would be happier if she never needed to communicate with anyone ever again, unless they were some kind of microbe: that's the level of her need for any interaction whatsoever.

The crew have a mixed reaction to her, the red hair being offputting - surely there are redhaired fishermen in Ireland? Maybe it's the hues of her tresses combined with her gender they don't like, but there are women onboard other than Siobhan, namely the older Olwen Fouéré and co-skipper Connie Nielsen, whose boat this is, along with her husband Dougray Scott (play guess the accent with him). The others are generic blokes, and if you're thinking, yes, I've seen Alien, these are the sort of working class characters who are likely to be eaten by a great, big, horrible monster before the end credits rolled, then you would not be too far off in that initial assessment, but not quite.

What happens is that the boat sails off with Siobhan taking notes, whereupon something about the bioluminescence in the water triggers an encounter that at first appears to be an unknown category of barnacle that have attached themselves to the hull. More alarming than that, they seem to be eating said hull, which makes it imperative the sailors find something to do to stop them consuming their craft and leaving them floating and stranded, not great when it has been established sailors don't learn to swim so they don't take too long to drown, the survival rate of going overboard not the best. However, they are not barnacles, they are suckers, and they are part of a massive undersea creature that has not only started consuming the vessel, but is also preventing their escape.

All this was a promising beginning, and that was even before the prescient for its day plot point about the disease the leviathan is carrying and infecting the crew one by one, but somehow the suspense became becalmed and the plot ground to a halt. We were left with some murkily-shot actors bickering with each other for the rest of the movie, and all the potential for a variation on The Thing set in a boat was frittered away on not terribly interesting interpersonal relationships that mostly made you realise Siobhan had a point in not wanting to waste her time interacting with those around her. It was very disappointing to admit that Sea Fever may have had the sea, but anything feverish had been tipped over the side where it sank to the bottom like a dead weight. It wasn't a gorefest, there were no thrills, the characters aside from the coldhearted lead were unengaging, and the special effects were scarce. A real letdown, it gave you no pleasure to say. Music by Christoffer Franzén.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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