When a sea trawler’s crew gets tangled up in the tentacles of an unknown entity, they are unable to signal for help. Soon they realize that the sea monster has released a parasite on to the boat and they must fight for their survival within a self-imposed quarantine.
It might take a while for this film to get going but when it does you realise how masterful a set up it has. Horror like this works best on a budget because it is what you don’t see that really (and literally in this case) gets under your skin. While it is not a particularly gory film when it does it, it does it well.
It is also undeniably just ‘Alien’ on a boat. But then ‘Alien’ is just ‘Planet of the Vampires’ but good. Unlike the xenomorph which, once it is out of the host, shifts to an external threat. Most of the horror of this film comes from the fact the entity is contained within the body. So the beats might be similar but set to a different rhythm.
It also has a better legacy to be a Lovecraft film than the recent ‘Colour Out of Space’. The huge tentacled aquatic entity is hardly seen nor mentioned but its menace is felt throughout, if mostly by the series of events that it puts into motion. Here it is also tied into Irish mythology which does a great job of pushing the imagination to start filling in the blanks. One of its greatest strength is the internal logic that it establishes, in so much as it is almost real. The mistakes and bad decisions the characters make are backed up with realistic reasons. This lends it a nice air of Hard Sci-Fi which might not be to everyone’s tastes but those that like their fiction to make sense will get a lot out of it.
‘Sea Fever’ is a great blast of sci-fi horror on a budget. It is tightly paced and brilliantly tense. It might take a while to find its audience but has all the trappings to be a fondly remembered cult classic. Considering its close atmosphere and deadly contagion, its timing could hardly be better.