Bay, The (2012)
Directed by Barry Levinson
Academy Award winning director Barry Levinson decided to jump on the found footage horror bandwagon, and although one would think this is a horrible idea at first, The Bay is such a well conceived environmental thriller and so true to life that you may never go in the water or eat a piece of fried chicken again after watching it.
Much different from his last sci-fi horror film, Sphere (although still dealing with the concept that we are our own worst enemies), The Bay is about the unfortunate and unspeakable tragic events that befell a small town named Claridge on the Fourth of July and how the government and media covered it up for a number of years.
Through a Skype conversation, the film is narrated by former aspiring news reporter Donna (played by Kether Donohue—who just happens to be a doppelganger of V/H/S' Helen Rogers), who somehow survived the epidemic that spread throughout Claridge. Through a collection of YouTube clips, text messages, home video footage and Donna’s own footage, Donna recalls the shocking events and how hundreds of people died in a matter of 24 hours.
Much like the set-up of Jaws, we see the slimy mayor of the town of Claridge (Frank Deal) reassure the media at a Fourth of July celebration how safe and clean the water is in the bay, despite the fact that he knows thousands of pounds of excrement from steroid-fed chickens are dumped into the bay every day. Because of this and a mixture of radiation in the town's water, the townspeople become infected with deadly parasites that eat them from the inside out. What follows is a harrowing and spine-tingling horror film that should be remembered for years to come.
What makes Levinson's "found footage" film work so well is that all of the video footage clips are believable. There are no characters inexplicably running around with a camcorder while being chased by a 100-story monster, but rather all the taped footage is from characters recording their symptoms, the fatalities and their Skype conversations with the desperate hope that their stories will get out to warn others. Just like the parasites themselves, the premise of The Bay manages to get under your skin due to the fact that this epidemic could very well happen in real life.
What had seemed like a cheap attempt at cashing in on the already dying found footage sub-genre, The Bay comes as a welcome and unexpected diversion for director Barry Levinson's typical offerings. It is a film that will pull at your heartstrings while simultaneously making you squirm in your seat.
4 out of 5