thebay

With a hefty statement like “From the producers of Paranormal Activity and Insidious” how could one not see this movie? Assuming, of course, you are into such movies. I for one am in love with both franchises, and I could not contain my nerdgasm when I heard about this and saw the trailer. The trailer was rife with shock factor, disturbing images and the promise of a nail biting good movie. Upon further digging, I find that Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity) was barely involved, and it was mostly the brain child of *drum roll* Barry Levinson. Okay. He’s been a big name in horror since… never. He did Sphere back in 1998, but do you remember how awesome that movie was? Neither do I.

So, I started the movie. The Bay opens with Donna, a budding reporter, currently an intern, for an idyllic Maryland town. She’s goes on to talk about the horrors she saw, and that thanks to some website, govwikileaksomethingsecrets.org.gov.edu.net, this footage is only just now available for her to show the world the truth. She serves mainly as a narration vehicle and a poor attempt at an amplifier for the horrors of the event. She explains, in voice overs and face time, her first hand account of the happenings of the movie. Her narration opens with explaining that 2 oceanographers are found dead in Chesapeake Bay, and it’s thought to be caused by sharks so it was pretty much passed over. This moves on into pseudo documentary style explanations of a water treatment plant that processes water from a chicken farm and deposits it into the bay. This footage is interspersed with footage of the 4th Of July Fair in Chesapeake Bay, MD with ominous foreshadowing. Soon, people begin to get sick and break out in boils. They are rushed to the hospital, where the doctors are understandably baffled. As people get sicker and sicker, the symptoms spread to bleeding, flesh being eaten away from the inside, and peoples tongues… just… kinda disintegrating. The CDC soon gets involved, but by then it’s too late. It’s discovered that an organism is being spread through the water that eats people from the inside out. The town descends into chaos, and almost everybody dies. Donna reports that those who survived made a deal with the government to maintain silence in exchange for money. UNTIL NOW!!! Now Donna will use her half-assed traumatized reporting to make the truth known!

This movie is mainly found footage presented in hastily cobbled together security footage, face-times, 911 calls, and home movies. Nearly NONE of the cool parts of the trailer are in the movie. I found that Donna’s narration, which was meant to be used to enhance the terror, was distracting. A good example of this is a series of home made movies of a young couple on a boat on their way to the town to visit their parents. The juxtaposition of the loving family inter-cut with the horrors of the breakout is chilling enough – having Donna point out how sad this is in voice over just takes you away from the moment. Another scene involved her and her camera man walking cautiously and afraid around the town square trying to figure out what’s going on – and it was a very tense scene… until her voice over talking about how horrible that moment was interrupted the atmosphere. I felt like they were one step away from just subtitling the movie with “YOU ARE SCARED” or “TENSION MOUNTS” at the appropriate time. Actually, that would have been better than a closeup of a bad community theater actor dead-panning her way around a narritive.

This movie just didn’t deliver. There were some enjoyable gross out scenes, but they were pretty badly done. It’s no wonder that this movie got vastly overshadowed by Sinister – which was bloody epic. I generally find that found footage movies tread a dangerous path. If they aren’t done just right, then they come off as cheesy and poorly made. Barry Levinson should stick to what he does best and stay out of horror.

High Point

The scene where two cops are in a house, and all we hear is the enhanced audio from the cruiser camera was very intense.

Low Point

Donna and her shitty hair and tight pants.