Hello everybody! Today we have the faux eco-horror film The Bay.
STARRING: Will Rogers, Kristen Connolly, Kether Donohue, Frank Deal, Stephen Nunken, Christopher Denham, Nansi Aluka
DIRECTOR: Barry Levinson
COUNTRY: United States
This ‘found-footage’ film is set in 2009 in the town of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland where something has infected the water there. But it’s not 100% known what it is or how it is transmitted. But when people start turning up dead and others start to do strange things, fear turns to panic and the town is shut down. The Government confiscate all video footage from every source possible. The Government didn’t want you to see this. This is that footage which is put together by a news reporter who was there.
The film creates an atmosphere of dread and foreboding that pervades each scene and has you on the lookout. This is heightened by long screams, clearly audible and identifiable as human but offscreen and far away, making you brace for what might be coming up next. What most films would do here is pepper jump scares throughout to make use of the atmosphere as quickly as possible, but The Bay is content to pace itself and build the atmosphere of dread to a fever pitch before allowing it to boil over. The result is highly effective.
That’s not to imply that the film has no jump scares, but it is judicious in its use of them. The filmmakers bide their time for the most opportune moment to strike. In the meantime there are plenty of good old fashioned scary scenes that don’t rely on jumps to get a reaction from the audience. The creatures themselves, some type of isopod that grew at an accelerated rate due to pollutants in the water, are disgusting and sufficiently creepy. Just looking at one is enough to send chills up your spine. This effect is aided by the special effects which are, by and large, quite good. CG appears to have been kept at a minimum, and the blood and gore looks spot on.
The Bay jumps from chaotic holiday celebrations to scientific expeditions to news reports to hospitals littered with corpses, showing how the crisis quickly grows beyond the point local authorities can handle, or beyond the point where the townspeople can warn others. Some characters appear throughout, while others pop up just long enough to get infected and die gruesomely. However long they last, their self-shot clips are made to fit into the plot, not used as filler.
In content and approach, The Bay is still too familiar, no matter how impressively realized. And again, it could’ve been much scarier. (One of the reason found-footage films are so popular is because even the cruddiest of them are often genuinely frightening.) But without laying on too heavy a hand, Levinson and Wallach do have strong points to make with The Bay, not just about the extremist outcome of environmental neglect, but about how the past decade-plus of “starve the beast” anti-government policies have left the United States unprepared for the inevitable. Now that’s some real horror.
- Found Footage done right.
- Lack of filler.
- Whole cast performance.
- Could be scarier.
- Simple dialogue among civilian characters.
SCORE: 8.0 / 10
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