Ecological horror, The Bay is a frightening found footage film that plunges the audience into a very real and very nasty story, all about a small town decimated by an invasion that they never saw coming.
Put together as a documentary on the events that unfolded in the seaside resort of Chesapeake Bay, we follow a myriad of characters including the police, a local doctor, a young news reporter, a pair of researchers looking into the thousands of dead fish in the area. We also follow a young couple with a baby returning home for the 4th of July holidays as they all become aware, and ultimately involved in, the terrible infestation that is taking over the town.
Using security footage, mobile phones, home video, police cameras, video phone calls, TV clips, internet pages and more, the story tracks the outbreak from its origins to the resulting mass panic and chaos revealing to us what was hidden by others until now.
Far beyond the dire found footage horrors that have filled our screens in recent years, The Bay uses the language of documentary expertly in the same way Lake Mungo did.
It is this realism that makes The Bay so unnerving and disturbing. The story uses the very believable basis of pollution and man-made chemicals mutating and altering the environment to create the disgusting flesh eating parasites that plague the unsuspecting people.
From the text at the start telling us how this story had been buried by the government, to the news report clips it cuts to on the build-up, to the disaster to the locals personal video’s in the overflowing clinic where people are getting sicker by the second, the film tricks its audience into believing in its validity. It does this using its familiar format and presentation of the faux facts, thus increasing the fear and frights tenfold.
It is this realism that makes The Bay so unnerving and disturbing as the story uses the very believable basis of pollution and man made chemicals mutating and altering the environment to create the disgusting flesh eating parasites that plague the unsuspecting people.
What many may find most shocking about The Bay is that it is directed and co-written by Hollywood old hand Barry Levinson, the man behind such eclectic and excellent output as Toys, Bugsy, Sphere, Rain Man and Good Morning, Vietnam.
However his foray into horror is unsurprising when you analyse his later films, such as Man of the Year and Wag the Dog – both satirical comedies taking a bite out of politics and corruption. This obvious interest in the evil machinations of government both local and national is taken a step further in The Bay, which much like Jaws before it sees the authorities aware of what is going on but uncaring of the consequences until its too late.
With an excellent cast of relative unknowns coupled with the brilliant use of the documentary format and Levinson’s creativity and directorial flair, The Bay delivers on all fronts especially in the horror.
From the tense creepy atmosphere of the opening to the insane panic and pandemonium at the end, Levinson makes sure to put characters first so we always care about what is happening making the monster menace all the more awful.
Presenting us with a truly terrifying and believable concept The Bay is a brilliant horror expertly demonstrating the power of found footage horror – something recent movies have lead us to forget. It proves that the format can work very well in frightening people when used by the right director on the right script.