THE GREEN SEA (2021)

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THE GREEN SEA (2021)
Written and Directed by Randal Plunkett
Out now on digital and on demand

American heavy metal musician turned author Simone is struggling to write her second book.  Having gained success with her first novel six years previously, she’s under pressure to deliver once again but something is holding her back. Plagued by visions of the past, she’s trapped in a vicious cycle she’s unable to free herself from and, with the words struggling to come, she turns to drink for comfort. Her destructive path hits an unexpected obstacle when a mysterious teenage girl suddenly enters her life. With her solitary existence now shattered thanks to her encounter with ‘the kid’, Simone is forced to face her demons and confront her sinister past she’s so desperately trying to escape.

THE GREEN SEA is the debut feature film from filmmaker Randal Plunkett, who’s previous short film work WALT and OUT THERE laid the foundations for his nature-blending style of storytelling. Having been captivated by his previous work, I wondered what this surreal, character-driven fantasy drama would have in store.

Broken down into a series of chapters, THE GREEN SEA is a tale of many parts. Each chapter represents a step in lead character Simone’s journey and path to self-acceptance and to free herself from her shackles. When we first meet Simone, she’s shopping in her local supermarket and its clear from the looks the residents give her that she’s a less-than-favourable personality. Scowling at everyone in the supermarket whilst hiding herself away from society inside her hooded coat, you get the feeling that she’s done something to earn this response from the locals. I’d doubt that her being a foreigner in a sleepy Irish village or her metal-inspired dress and appearance would be the cause for such abrasiveness, so what secrets is she hiding? As we follow her back to her residence, we grow to learn more about who Simone is. It’s clear from the offset that Simone is battling demons but is seeking comfort from the only things she has left – bottles of vodka, her beloved Jeep and hiding inside her home, working at her computer, attempting to make a dent in her follow-up novel she’s been contracted to provide. However, her self-destructive bubble she’s built up for herself is about to burst when she’s involved in an accident that threatens to turn her life upside down… but could this event be the catalyst for change she so desperately needs?

Katharine Isabelle is no stranger to fans of horror, namely Ginger Snaps, American Mary and See No Evil 2, but here we see a completely new side to her as flawed author, Simone. With most of the film hinging upon Simone as a character, Isabelle makes it look effortless as she carries the storyline and wonderfully portrays all aspects of humanity – the good, the bad and the ugly. Her character goes through a range of emotions and Isabelle captures every one to take you on Simone’s journey. She manages to bring humanity to a character that isn’t especially likeable in her actions. The despair of the character is palpable, as is the guilt, hurt, anger and tragedy but there are scenes, albeit rare, in which we witness her pure joy, as seen when she goes on her walks in the open countryside, the only place she seemingly feels free of her burdens even if only for a little while. Returning to the familiar comfort of her home is how she retreats into herself. It’s her safety net, her nest, but it’s also what’s suffocating and trapping her. The enclosed, dark spaces are just filled with memories of what was; a haunting reminder looking her square in the face at every turn. The appearance of the kid is like a ray of light into her life, an introduction of something new,  pure and unsullied, who’s presence may be enough to help her break her own cycle… but will it be enough?

Katharine Isabelle’s performance in this film is nothing short of mesmerising. From the offset, I was invested in the character that Isabelle conveys with such depth, whether during solo scenes or throughout interactions with the kid and others. With Simone such a complex character that’s been worn down and who can turn at a flick of a switch, it needed someone who could portray the entire range of emotion whilst staying true to who Simone is and Isabelle absolutely nails the character. She delivers such intensity during Simone’s fits of rage and is truly frightening to witness, but there’s scenes in which there are moments of true joy and hope captured on her face in which can’t help but root for her. Finding it easier to push people away, Simone isn’t an easy character to like, but watching her character’s story unfold on screen, I willed her to make the change and feel good about herself for once in the hope that things can be turned around. You can see it in her character that she has the capability to be more, but has resigned herself to be the devil that she fears everyone thinks she is, herself included. Can she ever find redemption?

Supporting Katharine Isabelle in her role is a tremendous young talent in the form of Hazel Doupe who stars as ‘the Kid’. Though her role isn’t as demanding as the lead, her subtle performance is exactly what is needed to play off Isabelle’s Simone, and the two work in such harmony with one another, with Doupe providing the inquisitive nature of youth and standing strong in the ugly face of intimidating anger. It was also great to see Michael Parle, who’s starred in quite a few films we’ve reviewed here at HCF, as ‘The Collector’. His presence is quite a striking one thanks to the bowler-style hat and round, gothic, John Lennon-style glasses he wears which gives an otherworldly aura to his character. With the emotive eyes hidden from view, it’s hard to work out what his motive is when he first arrives on the scene, especially after his appearance in the dreamscape. Hiding in the shadows, he’s a mysterious character indeed.

To look at, THE GREEN SEA is a visual delight with interesting use of colour to give an unreal tone. Plunkett’s choice of visual aesthetic is backed up by impressive, layered audio work that provides added depth and nuance to the scenes on screen as well as heighten the surrealist nature of the movie. I also admired the detail included on location at Simone’s home as it wonderfully amplifies the emotional state in which Simone finds herself and further adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere within the walls. The scenes outdoors in the fields and the beach are a sharp contrast to those we see the duo usually cooped up in with the woodland in particular an effective setting to aid the storytelling, something we’ve seen before in Plunkett’s previous works.

A thoughtful, rollercoaster of emotion, THE GREEN SEA is a dark yet beautiful journey that explores humanity’s flourishes and flaws in all their naked glory.

Rating: ★★★★☆

About Bat 7854 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Yakuza Zero and Webbed.

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