Seagull Movie Review

Written by Joanna K. Neilson

Released by Evolutionary Films


Directed by Peter Blach
Written by James Abbott and Peter Blach
2019, 84 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Grimmfest UK Premiere on 9th October 2021

Gabrielle Sheppard as Rose
Adam Radcliffe as Jeff
Jessica Hynes as Janet
Miranda Beinart-Smith as Lily


There’s something that filmmakers just love about the clash of seaside sunshine, sandy beaches, and the misery of the human condition. It’s used brilliantly in Saint Maud, Brighton Rock and... erm... Jersey Shore.

Seriously. Watch reruns of Jersey Shore and tell me it isn’t bleak AF.

The Seagull gets a lot out of this contrast as well. Not to be confused with the Saoirse Ronan period drama of the same name, this is definitely taking place in the ‘bleak kitchen-sink drama’ area of horror. Set in the British seaside resort of Folkestone, the mundane grind of daily life is a long way from the holidaymaker experience of letting loose and scoffing fish and chips.

seagull 01 seagull 02

With more than a little owed to Tim Roth’s The War Zone, a young woman leaves her beach hovel and returns to her home to find satisfaction, or at least justice, for an unknown evil.

The film opens with an ominous fire on a beach, and develops into a brutal battle of wills between two very broken souls. Here, the evil is extremely close to home, which makes it all the harder to see. But those who fight monsters are destined to become them, especially when egged on by a creepy vagabond with a penchant for masks and outdoor defecation. It’s at its best when it becomes a claustrophobic struggle for survival, ensuring some long-neglected resentments are rapidly pushed to the surface.

seagull 03 seagull 04

All the same, it falls a little shy of its full potential. It’s frequently beautiful to look at and the characters and the locations have a scuzzy charm, but overall it’s just not something that seizes the viewer and demands to be watched. It might be due to a double-whammy of twists that are both seriously overused by movie after movie. Or the feeling that it doesn’t go quite far enough and largely shies from any truly graphic payoff that might have delivered some genuine catharsis and shock. The implications are there, but it leaves a feeling of being vaguely cheated.

It all seems oddly safe with the reveals being predictable and the final strike not quite hitting home. The hungry, screeching despair of the seagull’s cries are appropriately haunting, but this isn’t a film you could ever enjoy. And it’s not even a true horror in the strictest sense; although the backbone is truly horrific, it’s more of a dark drama with hints of savagery. It’s a shame, but viewers may be left empty at its end, wondering if the experience actually worked for them.

In this case, I’d have to say not really. But it is still less bleak than reality TV.


Movie: 2 Star Rating Cover


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