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The Bay Review – A New Spin on Found Footage Horror [Film]

Posted on November 3, 2012 AT 03:43pm

The Bay is a very different kind of found footage film than most people are used to. Rather than be presented as simply a film that’s surfaced, it’s told in a wikileaks style documentary about an unknown incident in the Chessapeake Bay that was responsible for massive devastation and wide spread death. The film preys on your fear of food producers, local government and shady deals and to some extent feels plausible. The idea that you’re watching a leaked documentary to spread the word on something swept under the rug works, but it’s actors never really sell the level of death and carnage that’s being portrayed on screen, which leaves something to be desired.

Told mostly through the accounts of Donna, a young reported sent to cover a 4th of July weekend party for a regional news team, and cell phone, video and security footage from around the area, a narrative is pieced together that offers far more fictional information that up front scares. The Bay tries to push the idea of what could happen so realistically that as a viewer it’s hard to feel really scared or even grossed out. The documentarian nature of the film leaves it all to be incredibly clinical and the fact that it takes place several years ago removes the idea that you, the viewer, are in any danger of it happening to you.

The Bay is almost a warning against pollution and how we treat our food sources. It’s a warning against steroid use in chicken and toxic waste dumping. It takes so much time explaining how the monsters in the movie came to be that it removes any sense of mystery. The format of the film and the nature of the deaths lack any real punch and while the outbreak itself is terrifying and rather disgusting on multiple levels, the shock factor is low. These are the same kinds of deaths that I’ve seen in PG-13 movies just heightened a bit. The few times the film does try to go for the big jump scare they all fall flat. It’s “OH MY GOD WE FOUND A BODY!” or “AH BLOOD DRIPPED ON ME!” When compared to the likes of a film like Cloverfield or even Blair Witch Project there’s just nothing there to keep you scared.

Barry Levinson is a very interesting director and is making his first true attempt at horror here. The Oscar winning director has had his share of hits with the likes of Rain Man and Wag the Dog as well as the often under rated Sphere and Sleepers. He’s capable of telling a compelling story but in this case he’s told a story almost too well. Too much information from too many sources when the ideas at hand are not very complicated makes the film feel like it’s trying too hard. It’s desperate to inform and not scare and that’s it’s biggest downfall. It’s and admirable try at something new in the genre, but falls flat in the end.

The Good: At least it’s trying to do something original in a genre that’s quickly wearing itself thing

The Bad: Going for the informative fake documentary rather than the scare-a-thon it should be causes the whole film to fall apart

The Ugly: It doesn’t push the envelope nearly enough to be considered a real horror film.

Score: 4/10

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