Whenever I’m feeling sorry for myself, I explore the realm of dark history – A time where women were burned alive because superstitions led foolish husbands to believe they had been swapped with a changeling; When sailors would draw straws at sea, the unfortunate one with the shortest was to be devoured by the rest; When corpses were exhumed solely to burn their internal organs, in efforts to stop the spread of vampirism. It may be difficult to believe all of this now, but these things happened – Superstitions ruled the world.
Both barbaric and bizarre, I’ve always found these outlandish ideas utterly fascinating. Human beings seemingly cannot rest without having answers to every possible question, so much so that they spawn some of the most deranged explanations imaginable. I am so thankful we’ve progressed, and that the torch of understanding has been passed to science.
Y’all may be wondering what this has to do with SEA FEVER, and I’ll tell you – I was reacquainted with an old, sailor superstition once again; The presence of redheads is bad luck to a sailor, and they mustn’t be allowed to board the ship by any means. Unfortunately for the crew on the fishing boat in our tale, Siobhán (Hermione Corfield), an introverted scientist aboard to study anomalies, happens to be a redhead.
Though placed in modern times, superstition still lingers – So when a massive, unidentifiable sea beast with seemingly endless tendrils attaches itself to their boat, she of course is to blame. Though undoubtedly unsettled by this, it only marks the beginning of their trouble. Unbeknownst to them, this aquatic monster carries a malicious parasite along with it – One that begins to make its way to the crew on board.
The plot here was simple, but effective. I was getting pure Lovecraftian vibes throughout, not only because of the strange, ghostly tendrils, but the overall atmosphere just screamed visceral horror. I’ve always thought the deep ocean to be as unsettling as deep space, and this played out very much like an oceanic take on The Thing (1982) for me. Though not as gory, and definitely more focused on the parasitic angle rather than being a creature feature, the gross bits worked very well and left a lasting impression. I’m a sucker for disease-horror in which whatever is taking over is misunderstood – Raises the stakes, and causes a lot of anxiety through the trial and error process.
I love how confined this film was as well. Being stranded on a fishing boat days away from the shore added such extreme levels of claustrophobia, by the third act tension had risen so high I was literally on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t sure where this was going, how it would all end – I didn’t leave disappointed. It was dark, bleak, dramatic… A grim ending to extremely abysmal circumstances.
SEA FEVER is the kind of aquatic horror I’ve been craving. It isn’t another shark movie, there isn’t some giant sea serpent devouring folks, nobody gets stranded on some unknown island… No, all the sea-horror stereotypes were allowed to fall by the wayside, and for that I am grateful. Here, we have caught a truly refreshing entry to the deep trenches of oceanic horror.