What’s it About?
Chaos breaks out in a small Maryland town after an ecological disaster occurs.
Directed by Barry Levinson
8 out of 10
Barry Levinson, who brought us “Diner” and “Rain Man”, takes a stab at an ecological “Found Footage” movie. He actually succeeds in making a decent horror flick on a few levels. It doesn’t entirely work but Levinson’s tight direction and amazing pace makes “The Bay” and above average FF movie. I’m sure some of the most jaded FF fans will find some things to dislike about it. I, being one of them.
Lately some FF movies, most notably “A Night in the Woods”, “The Dinosaur Project and “the Lost Coast Tapes” have been just outright turkeys. So, yeah, I am jaded. Even the FF movie “Evidence” which showed some potential just fell flat for me.
Why am I cutting “The Bay” some slack? Levinson really builds up the suspense and he delivers the chills and puts together a nicely executed eco-thriller. The story about a contaminated Chesapeake Bay unfolds with true execution and is not a conventional FF movie thanks to writer Micheal Wallach’s unique take on how drinking and swimming in The Bay can have terrifying consequences. What I liked even more was the use of multiple POV’s in this movie.
The Movie begins with the character of Stephanie, a news reporter, played by Kristen Connolly (The Happening and Cabin in the Woods) video taping a confessional of sorts which includes how the contamination began which claimed the lives of so many of the local townspeople. As she goes on record about the politics and ignorance involved with the disaster we are riding shotgun with different angles and viewpoints that serve to propel the story.
News broadcasts, web sites, security cameras, street cams and even Police dashboard cams are all used here to good effect. We get a more and more info on how the horror begins right up to how 2 teens are killed by flesh eating organisms after their camera washes up on the shore.
It is revelations like these that keep the story unfolding. One particularly disturbing scene involves footage of a captured fish with disgusting organisms crawling inside of it. It seems that these nasties like eating the tongue. Yuck.
What I liked about this production was how real the threat really is. Two French researchers find out that the Bay’s toxicity is through the roof. Even when they submit the proof it falls on deaf ears. Even Mayor Stockman played by Frank Deal (The Bourne Legacy) refuses to acknowledge that anything is wrong. Instead of causing a panic he goes about drinking water in front of his towns people and doing radio shows exclaiming the safety of the water. Unfortunately it does not bode well at all for everyone involved.
As we are shown more and more footage from various angles we find out that slowly but surely people are serving as hosts for flesh eating organisms that are eating people from the inside out. It starts with us watching one of the French researchers being eaten alive, infected fish being caught, infected policemen that lose control and commit suicide to avoid spreading the infection, outrageous stuff like that.
Eventually as Stephanie exposes more about the contamination, Levinson builds the suspense and terror to a frightening level. Hospitals over-run with infected people, Women walking around screaming for help, videos of men impregnated with “Cymothoa Exigua” or Isopods, Police patrols encountering crazed and infected people.
All types of mayhem is caught on tape here. At one point the local hospital’s Doctor, who is hands down the most admirable character, tries his best to plead for help from the CDC who are at a loss at first as to what the threat may be. We watch as the back and forth between the Doctor and various people at the CDC gets intense and scary. Levinson just pours on the dread and suspense with further POV’s of the horrific infestation of the flesh eating creatures.
The film covers different angles and they all mesh and gel in good fashion here. The Mayor gets his comeuppance of course for his blatant ignorance and many innocent people die before a solution is found to destroying the organisms. Another angle covers a young married couple that almost avoids the infection but eventually after docking their boat and coming ashore it becomes a desperate race for the young Mother to protect her baby.
Then of course throughout the film we have Stephanie covering the 4th of July crowd right before things go wrong. Stephanie guides us to the conclusion and the aftermath of the isopod invasion.
It is a tidy resolution and even if it isn’t near as good as what comes before it, it still resonates long after it ends. Levinson’s FF movie about a terrifying eco-disaster is a gripping, yet flawed effort. I took points off for some of the amatuer-ish acting and the all too tidy wrap up. I’m nitpicking though.
The Bay is creepy, well executed and it changes things up a bit in the already tired FF genre. Also, I must mention the few scenes here and there that are very gory and violent. Levinson and Wallach pull no punches there.”The Bay” is definitely worth a watch even if it’s just a one time viewing. Enjoy and please use your water filter if you are intent on drinking your city’s tap water. Enjoy!