Timing is an essential thing when it comes to storytelling. The entire structure of a story, how it is to be told, who is to be at its forefront, what secrets are to be revealed when- all of these things are a matter of timing. A word too early, or too late, can ruin the essence of it all. But when it is right on the clock, wonderful things can happen. The timing of ‘Sea Fever’ is impeccable.
In 2020, we have been hit by a pandemic that has completely turned the tide for the world. We are subjected to a situation that is opening new doors of understanding to us. The questions and dilemmas that riddle us now have always been there, just as movies like ‘Sea Fever’ have been made before. In fact, there have been a lot of better films in the genre that we all find ourselves going back to in the time of COVID-19.
The films that we might not have appreciated so much before are appearing to us in a new light, owing to the perspective shift due to the current situation. And that is what ‘Sea Fever’ banks on. Its eerie resonance with the current climate is staggering, and that’s what makes it a must-watch, at least once.
Sea Fever Plot
Siobhan is a marine biologist with no people skills. She is to board a fishing trawler for a couple of days to complete her research. Because she is a red-head, she gets the flak for bringing bad luck aboard. She doesn’t believe in such superstitions, but when a deadly problem surfaces, her beliefs are challenged by the crew who get more anxious by the minute.
The boat has an elaborate system that allows salt-water to be turned into fresh-water. A mysterious creature coming from the depths of the sea contaminates the water, and anyone who comes in touch with it gets infected and meets a horrific death.
Sea Fever Review
Had it not been the COVID-era, ‘Sea Fever’ would have been a mediocre film, at best. It falls into the category of sci-fi horror, but it explores neither the sci-fi part of it nor the horror. The only consolation that this lack of thrill provides is a sense of realism. By not taking the science over the top, it keeps the threat of the creature real. It could very well be some authentic life-form that has not been discovered yet, and this feeling makes the story more believable. However, it doesn’t help the horror.
We know that the parasite is going to kill everyone; we also know the horrific ways in which they can die. It is also evident that no rescue is on the way, and, in the sea, they can’t run anywhere. Despite this, we don’t feel the need to figure out how the characters are going to save themselves. There is no urgency, no edge-of-the-seat moments. And so, had it released in the pre-COVID era, it would have probably flown under the radar. But then, timing changes everything.
What it lacks in horror and intrigue, the film makes up with its study of human behavior, and we are captivated by it because it is highly relatable. The characters have nowhere to go; they are cooped up in their boat. Their cramped quarters make us uncomfortable, invoking claustrophobia as no other film would have before. The thought of getting infected becomes creepier by the minute, and halfway into the film, you can already feel the parasites crawling under your own skin.
This sense of uneasiness is further intensified when a question of morality pops up. In one of the scenes, the characters are thrown into the discussion of quarantining themselves. Siobhan, the scientist, suggests that they should keep their distance if they don’t want the infection to turn any worse. Others don’t want to abide by it.
Again, had we been living in a simpler world, without the fear of falling prey to a virus, we probably wouldn’t have paid too much attention to this final solution. But due to the timing, the scene has its intended effect, probably much more than what the director might have initially intended. To sum it up, it is the audience’s perspective that makes ‘Sea Fever’ such an engaging film.
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