An ominous sea creature haunts six members of a ship, turning a peaceful journey into bloodshed. “Sea Fever” is unquestionably one of the best attempts of Irish cinema to proclaim the power that resides in it when it comes to filmmaking. Neasa Hardiman, the Irish director, brought the horrifying elements of the sea to the screen, gripping audiences from the beginning. The protagonist of the film, Siobhan (Hermione Corfield), is a marine biologist who joins a crew of marooned fishing trawlers for her academic research. As the narrative progresses, they all find themselves exposed to a fatal parasitic infection.

The idea of depicting the dark side of the sea isn’t new. However, the fear of what’s lurking beneath the captivating waves and the lingering sickness hits differently. The cinematographic achievements of “Sea Fever” are commendable. From eerie narrow corridors to the bioluminescent tides, one cannot resist but appreciate the excellence of the chilling expedition.

It is also highly applauded for illustrating the real tragedies of disease. Most of its critical reception compared it to the Covid-19 pandemic. The contagious infection took the lives of perfectly healthy individuals the same way “Sea Fever” entailed a mysterious predicament that displays what it feels like to encounter helplessness. It further encapsulates where human behavior can lead us in desperate times.

Sea Fever (2019) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

The Exclusion Zone

A PhD student, Siobhan, is an introverted scientist studying deep sea faunal behavior. Her mentor advises her to join the fishing trawler Niamh Cinn Óir, named after the owner’s deceased daughter. Reluctantly, she sets on a journey with six other crew members. These include Freya, the ship captain. Her husband Gerard, the skipper. Omid, the ship engineer, Johnny, Ciara, and Sudi.

When Siobhan arrives on the ship, a few crew members express their horror at the presence of a red-haired woman on board a vessel, which is supposed to be a bad omen. As their journey begins, Gerard leads the crew to an exclusion zone, an area known to be rich in fish. He does it without consulting any of the crew members and even ignores the captain’s orders about this decision. Blinded by greed, Gerard aims to catch a large haul of fish in his net to keep the ship.

Everyone sees some whales swimming in the ocean from the ship windows and is surprised to find them in that area, unbeknownst to their presence in a strange zone. Siobhan feels weird about whales as whales avoid the noise, but Ciara tells her it is a good omen. The boat hits a heavy object in those strange waters and stops right in the middle of the ocean. Upon inspection, Omid finds an uncanny breach in the ship’s hull emitting a bluish-green slime. Siobhan and Gerald touch the liquid but cannot make sense of what it is.

Gerard tells Siobhan to take the dive and cut off what he thinks are barnacles holding the ship. When Siobhan is about to jump, Gerard gives her a knife. Under the water, Siobhan discovers a large bioluminescent creature holding the vessel with its tentacles. She comes back scared and tells the crew what she saw. Gerard thinks it is a squid or maybe a large, undiscovered type of squid. They let a rope down to catch the creature, but it is too heavy. As he is releasing the rope, Johnny’s hand is cut open by the machine. As the slime already contaminates the rope, the infection enters Johnny’s body through the cuts on his hand.

The First Victim

Sea Fever (2019) Movie Ending Explained & Themes Analysed
A still from Sea Fever (2019)

Siobhan takes the slime with her and preserves it in a small round sample box. She notices another ship in the sea, and they decide to ask for help. Siobhan volunteers to row alone, but Johnny asks Gerard if the three of them should go. When they reach the ship, they find it stranded and strangely empty. After roaming around, they see the lower section of the ship and find the crew members dead in the cabins. It looks like they all have killed themselves. One of them even has his eyeballs removed.

According to Gerard, they all must have caught the sea sickness and taken their lives. He also orders Siobhan and Johnny not to tell others as it will lower their spirits. When they head back, they take out their fishing net and find so many fish that they have captured. The crew members start making plans about the money they will get from their shares after they disembark.

Siobhan and Johnny almost kiss each other, but they are interrupted. They both join other crew members who are celebrating at the dinner. Johnny grows red with a fever and tells Siobhan he wants to dive. Ciara and Siobhan stop him from jumping. He aggressively rubs his eyes, and Siobhan steps forward with a torch to look at them. She notices a tiny organism moving inside. As Johnny washes his eyes, he goes blind, and his eyes burst out, and he dies on the spot, spilling blood into the drain that is filled with the tiny parasites. They rush to warn Sudi, who is in the shower, but they are late, and the parasites enter his body. They break in and help him out. Ciara grieves for Johnny while Gerard, Omid, and Siobhan find out that the water pipes of the sea are now contaminated with the parasites.

The Three Survivors

After thinking for a while, Siobhan concludes that the slime contains eggs of the larvae of the giant creature. Siobhan runs back to the samples she collected earlier and experiments on how to kill them. After UV light fails to kill them, Siobhan runs an electric current through the ship using an arc welder. She and Omid start the operation, which sterilizes the stored water. As Gerard is taking them all home, Siobhan tells the crew that they all should wait until it is confirmed that the infection is gone. She insists that they all should stay on the ship for 36 hours.

But due to Sudi’s worsened condition, nobody agrees to this. Freya argues that they can all go to the hospital while Siobhan tells her it will be no good. She fails to convince them not to bring a new disease with them as it will infect the others, and Gerard yells at her. Sudi dies from the parasitic infection. Siobhan disables the boat and faces Ciara’s rage as she slaps her. They all agree to check each other’s eyes to look for the parasitic infection. All of them are cleared except Gerard.

Before leaving, Gerard confesses he intentionally brought the ship to the exclusion zone. The couple goes to their bedroom and looks at the picture of their lost daughter and grieves over their incomplete family. The two exchange a painful moment, and Gerarld kills himself. Meanwhile, Siobhan suspects Ciara’s infection and runs away to tell others. But Ciara attacks her and holds her legs as she tries to climb the ladder. Siobhan kicks her away, and Ciara falls dead on the ground. Freya, Siobhan, and Omid are the final three survivors.

Sea Fever (2019) Movie Ending Explained:

What Happens To Omid?

Freya tells Omid and Siobhan that she is leaving the ship. After trying to stop her and failing, the two let her go on a boat. They go back to the water supply tank to check whether the larvae are dead or not. But they are shocked to find that it is bigger than before and has eaten through the hull, causing the ship to sink. They set the ship on fire by using the white spirit and decide to get down the ship into a raft.

As Omid is descending, he falls into the sea, strangled by the creature’s tentacles. Siobhan dives into the ocean to rescue him. After safely getting back on the raft, they both spot a ship coming their way and rejoice. Unfortunately, Siobhan notices she has cut her wrist from the tentacle and is now infected. They both cry silently as Siobhan jumps into the water and swims to the creature. Omid waves the approaching ship, hoping to be rescued.

Is There a Happily Ever After?

Sea Fever (2019) Movie Ending Explained & Themes Analysed
Another still from Sea Fever (2019)

“Sea Fever” has an open ending where it isn’t specified whether Omid has the infection or not. The three deaths of Johnny, Ciara, and Sudi were all different from each other. Johnny’s eyes burst out, and the other two victims died with their eyes intact. Similarly, Ciara’s eyes were clear from any parasite, yet she died of infection. So, there is a chance that Omid also has the infection without realizing it.

Another critical detail is Freya’s role in this situation. Maybe she is the one who called the approaching ship for help. And if that’s the case, she may be infected as well. Both Omid and Freya can infect the crew members of the other ship. On the other hand, they could both be healthy and enjoy a happily ever after.

Sea Fever (2019) Movie Themes Analyzed:

Greed and Selfishness

The characters portray selfishness and greed on various occasions in the film. The first character to manifest greed is Gerard, who risks the lives of all crew members for his selfish motives. Freya also finds out his intentions but chooses to remain quiet and keeps hiding them from everyone else. When Siobhan urges everyone to stay in quarantine for 36 hours for the sake of humanity, she is vehemently opposed by everybody. They are all more concerned about their own lives than the rest of the world.

Another person who selfishly holds Siobhan back is Ciara. After Siobhan suspects she has an infection, she runs away, but Ciara stops her as she does not want others to know about her condition. By the film’s end, Freya leaves Siobhan and Omid to die on the ship and goes away. Whether or not she intends to seek help, she thinks about her safety first.

Sacrifice

Apart from the selfish desire to put oneself first without understanding what they’re up against, there were some heartfelt moments of selflessness and sacrifice in “Sea Fever.” Gerard is one example of such a character, as he gave his life to save his wife from getting the infection. The most prominent character who portrayed that through and through was Siobhan. Despite being called ‘a bad omen’, she repeatedly put her life at risk.

Siobhan tried to convince everybody to stay on the ship for the greater good. She did not want to risk the population anywhere on this Earth and did not shy away from putting her life at risk. Siobhan also did not think twice before giving into the treacherous ocean to save her friend Omid. In the end, she sacrifices her life as she surrenders herself to the sea creature instead of going to the rescue ship with Omid despite him telling her that she is fine.

Helplessness

Alone on the ship, the feeling of helplessness stays prevalent. The crew members realize that they all have to help themselves and come up with logical and sometimes twisted ideas. Gerard takes his own life due to the helplessness he feels toward himself. He wants to stay alive yet kills himself so that he will not pass the infection to someone else. Siobhan helplessly jumps into the ocean when she realizes she has an infection that no one can help her with. Omid, who is with her, wants to do anything to save her. However, in the last moment that they spend together, they cry out of helplessness and grief.

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Trailer:

Sea Fever (2019) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, Letterboxd
The Cast of Sea Fever (2019) Movie: Hermione Corfield, Dougray Scott, Connie Nielsen
Sea Fever (2019) Movie Genre: Horror/Mystery & thriller, Runtime: 1h 30m
Where to watch Sea Fever

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