S: Sea Fever (2019)

This seems to be my season to watch movies with common themes. So why not another movie with people trapped aboard a ship at sea with… something?

Siobhán (Hermione Corfield) (why yes, this is an Irish movie, could ye not kin?) is a stand-offish grad student whose program sends her off in a fishing trawler to catalog their catch and look for any anomalies. She is almost forcibly pulled off her work at a lab which is finding parasites in water they should not be in, which is why your foreshadowing sense was tingling.

The husband and wife (Dougray Scott and Connie Nielsen) owner/operators of the Niamh Cinn Oir (told you – Irish) are in deep financial trouble, as witness the state of the boat. They need a massive catch, and they need it bad. Which is why Scott disobeys Coast Guard orders and steers into an Exclusionary Zone, supposedly closed off because of whales. Turns out that massive shoal they see on sonar isn’t lots of fish, it’s something preying on the whales – and it thinks the Niamh Cinn Oir is a whale, trapping it in place with glowing tendrils and pumping some sort of slime through the hull.

That slime is full of parasites that can enter the bloodstream through any open cut – and if you’ve seen any episodes of Deadliest Catch you’ll know that injuries abound on these trips, and the end result is messy. Worse news is the parasite is also in the water supply.

Sea Fever owes a lot to Alien, with its female protagonist being the only one sensible enough to see what’s at stake versus a lot of desperate working class types. They even have a callback to the trip to the alien ship where earlier victims of the parasite are found (a commercial fishing vessel floating in the Exclusionary Zone).

Sea Fever, though, is not the cover-your-eyes horror trip that Alien was; it is more a slow-burn exercise. That might have made it suffer due to a viewing immediately after [REC]4, but I was never tempted to fast forward or go elsewhere for my S entry – I wanted to see what happened next. It is well-cast and acted, and sometimes you just need that sort of variance in your entertainment diet.

The poor movie also came out about the same time as Underwater, aka the beginning of the Pandemic, so sadly it was born under a bad sign. Or, as one of the many fisherman superstitions in the movie inform us, it’s bad luck to have a redhead on board. Being something of a ginger fan, I don’t see the sense in that, so I’ll give Sea Fever the recommendation it deserves.

 

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