Movie Review-The Bay


Coming to home video March 5th

The Bay is Barry Levinson’s entry into the found footage genre. Levinson made his name from films like Good Morning, Vietnam, Rain Man, and so many other amazing films, the man has a resume that demands respect. Levinson does not really have a reputation for horror; I guess the only thing he has done that could be close to it was Sphere. The Bay was originally conceived to be a documentary about the Chesapeake Bay in Claridge, Maryland and how pollution has made the water 40 percent dead. Levinson makes this film where the enemy is us, we did this to ourselves and we get to sit back and watch the errors in our way of life harm innocent people. This story is told to us thru the point of view of a young news reporter named Donna Thompson who is being interviewed on Skype; it seems she is making a film about the events she witnessed that turned her small town upside down during the 4th of July weekend. Levinson abandons his old directing style and tells this story thru YouTube clips, multiple security cameras, IPhones, and different forms of hand held cameras.

This film had the feel of a found footage Jaws, we get the epidemic that just turns the town upside down in seconds, we get the scum bag mayor who needs to cover this up because of the revenue this weekend gets the town, and we get the fear that anytime anyone gets in the water, something bad will happen. There is a scene in the opening seconds of the film that the Mayor drinks a glass of water and reassures all of us how safe the water is. Though, he knows that there is thousands of pounds of chicken excrement dumped into it, and that the steroids from the chickens have polluted the waters. This plus a mixture of radiation that is in the water seems to have filled the water with deadly parasites that when they get inside anything, they eat them from the inside out.

This is the example of you can always teach an old dog a new trick, and while I am always bitching about how “found footage” films are so done to death and that they should stop, along comes one that really delivers a punch and feels so realistic that the true horror of this film is to know it feels like looking into the future if things do not change. This is not a group of kids hunting a witch, or people going into an abandoned building for ghosts, this is everyday normal life and what happens when an abnormal thing happens. This film has some scenes that will anger the viewer, like when Homeland Security is being told about what is going down and how hundreds of people are dead, and that they knew 14 days prior about what was happening with the water and they did not think it was worth the risk to act on it, that a small town is expendable.

When Levinson is making a film like this, you know he is embracing the future of film making and how anyone with any portal device can make a film these days. Levinson creates a film that will make you squirm, that will make you close your eyes and be genuinely scared, and also will make you care and feel for these people as this could happen to your town or your loved ones town. I loved the way he let the characters have free reign to tell their stories and that he kept this film simple and made it as realistic as humanly possible. The filming style though at times creates such paranoia, because some of the things happen out of the angle of the camera or IPhone and lets you guess what is going on or going to happen. What appeared on the surface to be a cheap attempt at a found footage cash in has turned out to be a very must see horror film.

9 out of 10