The Bay – 3 out of 5
The “found footage” subgenre of horror films has always been a bit hit-or-miss for me—with more misses than hits. The whole foundation of the subgenre has been less than stable with most of the films and when they feel lazily thrown together they are easy for me to tune out of and start to question why the hell the characters are filming the whole thing when it no longer makes any logical sense. When the story is strong it is easy to ignore and not pay attention to the subgenre’s inherent short comings but so few accomplish this. The Bay came out in 2012 and I kinda ignored it due to, most likely, fatigue from the shaky POV style story telling. However, the film was directed by a man who has never done a horror film before so that naturally makes it kinda interesting. Recently, I decided to give it a shot and, for the film being made by the same guy who gave us Rain Man and Good Morning, Vietnam it’s not a bad feature…but it’s still not a great horror film or an amazing achievement for “found footage” features.
|Now, if I was in her place, I wouldn't stop screaming due to the growths on|
|"Alright gang, let's try the 'sitting still so they think|
the video chat is frozen' method of getting out of helping
In a small Chesapeake Bay town, a sudden and very deadly sickness hits the residents. Two researchers found evidence of a possible toxic outbreak but the mayor ignored the warnings for fear it would cause a mass panic but now nearly the entire population of the town is sick with mysterious boils and rashes all over their bodies. A young local news reporter and her cameraman are attempting to document what is occurring while the ER’s doctor attempts to figure out what is going on and tries to get the CDC involved. However, they soon learn that it isn’t a virus striking the town but rather a mutated parasite that is eating its victims from the inside out…
|"Ewwww gross! Set the fish, the boat and myself on fire to kill this thing!"|
|She's incredibly calm for one who is being approached|
by a dozen doctors in that gear.
The Bay suffers a lot of the usual problems that all “found footage” films suffer from. Essentially, the story is unfolded through several characters and, sadly, most of them make no sense to why they are filming their trials and tribulations so much. In the cases of the researchers and the young journalist, their documentations and their reasons for filming everything were something you don’t think twice about but when it concerns, for example, a young family taking a boat to meet loved ones in the town there were a lot of times where I found myself wondering why the hell are they filming this. Especially when they arrive and everything seems out of place. This caused the film to have a reality that simultaneously felt authentic but inauthentic as well. It sorta jumped back and forth from a great suspension of disbelief to complete and utter disbelief.
|Well, that contest was obviously rigged. She's clearly a human and not a |
The cast in the film are pretty decent and all are capable of legitimizing the “reality” the story is trying to create. They all feel like real people in the real world but the strongest aspect this film has working for it is the buildup and establishment of its center conflict. Watching the town get sick and seeing the people trying to figure out what is happening is very suspenseful and, at times, very unsettling and frightening. Most importantly, however, it is extremely engaging and sucked me in immediately. Sadly, this level of griping entertainment isn’t held for the entire running length and after the whole ordeal is understood and as the film reaches its final act, the story starts to reach its limits and the whole thing becomes repetitive—there are multiple scenes in a matter of just a few minutes where a character sees a body, says, “What the hell?” and then is scared that they just found a dead person.
|"The Human Torch was denied a bank loan."|
The Bay starts strong and has a great cast. The story might have some of the usual “found footage” shortcomings but it’s definitely unnerving and suspenseful and does a tremendous job at setting up the terror. It sadly unravels and loses steam towards the end but considering this was made by a director who has never done horror it’s not a bad jumping off point. I respect when creators challenge themselves to something new and while director Barry Levinson may not have made something that will be forever remembered in the world of horror, he showed off something pretty damn good and something that never felt like a lazy excuse to use the “found footage” subgenre.