When a writer retreats from the world, chances are that in their isolation, they find themselves alone with the monster they were hoping to escape. Movies like Secret Window reflect that kind of internal dynamic; it’s to the credit of writer/director Randal Plunkett that he manages to ring the changes on a familiar trope. The Green Sea is an organic, dark drama that’s all the better for avoiding horror clichés, but aiming for something more thoughtful and transformative instead.
Familiar from Ginger Snaps and tv show The Order, Katharine Isabelle plays US musician and novelist Simone, who has created a protective shell around her in the shape of a stately pile in the Irish countryside. That protection is also a trap; Simone lives a calcified existence, knocking back straight vodka from mugs, locked into a self-destructive pattern, but why? After getting a temporary repair to her jeep, Simone offers shelter to a young girl (Hazel Doupe) who needs shelter. Simone has a book to finish, but new relationships with her lodger, a local mechanic and a man known only as The Collector stretch Simone’s fragile sense of herself. Are these people real, or characters in her novel? And either way, what do their appearances portend?
The Green Sea’s title relates to a type of turtle; as in Mike Newell’s Donnie Brasco, there’s a helpful bit of symbolism via a nature documentary seen on television. With a sharp focus on two strong female characters, Plunkett takes a supernaturally-themed story that could have been a short, and expands it with some carefully loaded narrative that explores the foibles of the creative self. Simone may or may not have killed her previous partner; the locals think she might be a Satanist. When the conclusion arrives, it’s supernaturally themed, and the kind of twist that justifies the kinks of the journey.
After a series of shorts, The Green Sea marks a strong debut feature for Plunkett, who avoids the hysteria of most genre entries, and comes up with a serious drama that places Simone at the heart of a blurred snapshot of guilt and anguish. While bleak in subject, The Green Sea is elevated by good acting and a detailed storyline that never shirks the responsibility to entertain; this is a psychological mystery story, for adults, not thrill-seeking teens. Simone’s journey is difficult, but the ending is genuinely rewarding for audiences prepared to take a detour from the beaten path.
The Green Sea is released this week (16/07/2021) in UK/ Ireland on VOD courtesy of Reel 2 Reel Films / Trinity Creative Group. Thank for access to this film. Link and trailer below.