After passing over this film on the Playstation store repeatedly, I finally watched the trailer and it caught my interest. I watched it and decided to “give it a go.” I’m glad I did. Although it uses the “found footage” formula that is quickly become a new genre of film, I agree with David Cox of The Guardian, who awarded the film 5 out of 5 stars and called it a “horror film for grown ups.”
The plot is a very realistic one. A big businessman in a small seaside town in Maryland is dumping toxic waste into the bay that the town depends on for their water and for holiday trade. The toxic levels rise in the water breeding a sort of super bacteria that mutates into a parasite that is eating fish alive. From the inside out.
During a Fourth of July celebration, the town’s people and tourists contract the bug and chaos ensues.
The film was directed by Barry Levinson and written by Michael Wallach. It premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and was released in theaters on November 2, 2012.
Overall the film has received good reviews from critics, despite a low “overall” score from IMDb of five and a half percent. Levinson who directed Good Morning Vietnam, yes that Levinson, does a brilliant job considering that the budget was obviously very low; which appears to be common feature amongst “found footage” films. (With the obvious exception of the huge budget for Cloverfield.)
The cast was all unknowns, which helped to sell the film’s realistic theme. While not too compact, the smaller setting of a town plagued (excuse the pun) by a virus or bacteria that causes multiple deaths and abject paranoia by the citizens worked for me. The addition of what looked like stock footage of police cars and ambulances racing to scenes and the young “trainee” media type who is there to catch the whole thing on tape, made it seem more of a documentary than a film.
It impressed me that Levinson could take the found footage formula that is, in my opinion, being done to death and make it into something fresh and interesting. It just goes to show that low-budget doesn’t have to mean low expectations.
While the film doesn’t work for everyone, I enjoyed it and it actually “creeped” me out at one point. The main reason being the plot and the reactions of the authorities and the experts at the CDC who were attempting to help via the internet. The CDC with their, in the beginning, smug know-it-all attitude which slowly devolves into concern, then panic, was just one other factor that sold the film.
The Bay is available on the Playstation store as a rental or for purchase. It is also available on DVD, I don’t know if it is on Netflix or any other “legal” streaming site.
I’d have to give the film a solid 4 out of 5 stars. Worthy of a look, The Bay is definitely a winner in the found footage “sub-genre” of horror and as David Cox said, it may just be the first “grown up” horror film. While I can’t agree 100 percent with the statement, the film definitely deviates from the many “hack and slash” and supernatural films on offer in the “sub-genre.”
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