It's no exaggeration to say, Sea Fever stands on the shoulders of giants. I was constantly receiving call backs to Alien; especially when the entirety of the small crew came together for a dinner. But it doesn't end there, with comparisons between The Thing and Harbinger Down. Now, this 2020 creature feature is no copycat; it's a homage. Wouldn't you reckon then, drawing inspiration from such films, that this flick would be pretty darn entertaining? Short answer - not at all.
Long answer - Sea Fever is originally fast paced. We are introduced to our characters and the central conflict within the first 20 minutes at a speed that could be almost called 'break neck' if it wasn't so well paced. It wastes no time in trying to allude to anything, instead throwing out its Lovecraftian trump card earlier than some may anticipate. Sea Fever aptly takes its name from the grueling paranoia and madness that can come from spending too much time at sea, and though, as the threat of quarantine and infection grows, and tempers shorten, this tension is never dragged as far as it could be. One such example could be the flaming red hair of our protagonist, which causes the seafaring group to consider this a bad omen when she comes aboard. One hour later, and this has been totally forgotten. Everything in the film is minimal; the fear and edginess; the characterization, and the effects, and though the latter is produced to a good standard, the rest is to the movie's detriment.
The lovely Hermione Corfield portrays Siobhan, a college research student, with a focus on the patterns of sea life, and a penchant for tight clothing, who also exhibits a serious case of anti-social behavior, which is not only told to us, but visually demonstrated too. Despite her low EQ, it is easy to feel an attachment to her, and during moments when she does feel great emotion, the audience clearly notices. Her research project takes her aboard a fishing trawler, with a religious, superstitious crew, led by Dougray Scott, with Connie Nielsen portraying his first-mate and wife. With the exception of Jack Hickey as one of the workers onboard, the other characters are barely worth mentioning considering their lack of depth. This is where I take umbrage, because despite the aforementioned small crew, it is only Siobhan who we feel sympathetic towards, the others receiving about as much characterization as a piece of cheese. Corfield is the primary human figure, our explainer of all things weird, and a plot driver, and despite these many hats, is the only developed character. In a monster movie, the audience must feel a connection to every character, otherwise, you have a pseudo Jason Voorhees film on your hands, in which nobody cares who dies first.
The film comes up with an impressively unique concept when the initial encounter occurs - to say, would be to spoil. Though the science offers up solid explanations, by the end of the movie, I couldn't help but feel as though I still had little idea about what the crew had even encountered. In a movie of this vein, 'less is more' is usually a great tactic, as we become unsure who can be trusted, and in Sea Fever, 'a lot less is more' should have been taken into account, to further flesh out the sheer force of the sea over man. This is never capitalized upon, and the creature aspect of the movie, which should have made for a great character, is as underdeveloped as the majority of the cast. Perhaps this is a case of 'we are afraid of what we don't understand', but the paralyzing fear of encountering a vicious species in an enclosed space where terror can come from anywhere is never taken advantage of, and save one particularly gruesome encounter, the movie takes a turn after the 20 minute mark to become a slow burn of a film, whose pace would rival the tortoise that raced the rabbit (without the winning analogy).
If you want a really good creature feature involving critters from the deep, I would recommend The Bay without reservation. As for Sea Fever - it should be found somewhere between Ambitropin and Melatonin, at your local pharmacy.