REVIEW: Seagull (2019)

dir. Peter Blach

Secrets, lies and familial trauma are at the centre of this horror-adjacent drama debut from Peter Blach. Focusing on a family in a seaside town whose past is defined by tragedy, the narrative is kick-started by a returning daughter who’s spent nearly a decade living as a recluse on a near-by beach. Meanwhile there’s a figure bedecked in a strange mask, who may – or may not – be real, or indeed one of the family members.

There’s potential to Blach’s film, not least thanks to an interesting set up. However Seagull emerges as muddled, with a plot that’s stretched and underdeveloped. There’s only so long the promise of familial secrets can sustain a film like this and, without any real horror set pieces, it all feels too muted.

There are solid performances from the ensemble (particularly Jessica Hynes and Adam Radcliffe) but they struggle with a rather cumbersome script. This should be leaner, meaner and with revelations more forthcoming, and despite some interesting ideas – and an effective seaside setting – it never quite comes to fruition. The drama isn’t particularly compelling, the horror too tame for genre fans and the rest gets lost in a fog of mediocrity. Even in its reveal Seagull will likely leave the audience scratching their head and asking ‘is that really it?’

⭐⭐

Russell Bailey

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