Review: Infected crew debates quarantining offshore in oddly timely 'Sea Fever'

Horror thriller has taken on a prescient tone in light of current events

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

A crew on board an Irish fishing vessel is infected with a virus and must decide between quarantining themselves at sea or going back to land and risk infecting thousands in "Sea Fever," a horror thriller that was absolutely made for our current moment. 

There's no doubt that scores of movies will be made about the COVID-19 pandemic. The power of "Sea Fever" is that it's not explicitly about the ongoing health crisis, but it deals with themes and philosophical struggles that perfectly align with our present situation. Its timing is perfect, and it's elevated by that timeliness.  

Hermione Corfield in "Sea Fever."

Hermione Corfield as Siobhán, a research student who boards a fishing boat with a crew of a half dozen hardened sea veterans who don't exactly welcome her with open arms. She, too, has her share of social anxieties, and life on board the boat presents its own set of challenges long before any parasites enter their water supply. 

Once they do, an infection quickly spreads among the passengers. This is a horror movie, so we get exploding eyeballs and the like, but writer-director Neasa Hardiman is mostly interested in the quandary Siobhán must present to the crew once it becomes clear the threat they pose is bigger than the boat they're on. And that's when things start reading like headlines. 

"Sea Fever's" structure is borrowed from any number of sci-fi thrillers where a small crew of people faces an otherworldly threat — see "The Thing" or "Alien," for starters — and it's a mostly contained, small-scale affair.

Once it gets down to business, however, it discusses some very salient points. And that's when this story about a boat in the sea off the Irish coast suddenly hits very close to home.


'Sea Fever' 


Not rated: Language, horror gore

Running time: 90 minutes