The Bay (2012)

Posted by Maria Mills | Posted on 8:00 PM | Posted in

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 7.5/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 6/10

THE BAY (2012) - Barry Levinson

Barry Levinson, Academy Award winning director of Rain Man, comes and presents a found footage movie? Intriguing enough, this is like a second version of Steven Soderbergh when he directed Contagion a year earlier. Come to think of it, The Bay is radically similar to Contagion.

The Bay follows Donna Thompson, a news reporter who recalls the events of a parasitic outbreak on the 4th of July. The film addresses the audience that all the footage is not meant to be seen without permission of the government. It revolves around Chesapeake Bay, where two researchers find a high level of toxicity in the water. Soon enough, a deadly plague is unleashed in the town's water supply, creating a mutant breed of the Cymothoa exigua, a tongue-eating louse.

When a film arrives during the glut of found footage movies, you are often forced to get creative, to be original and stand out. That is the main strength of The Bay -- it is not just composed of amateur camerawork, but also a combination of text messages, Skype video calls, surveillance cameras, and pure narration. In other words, the film takes the reality of the subject and turned it up a notch, making it even more real than ever. In a way, The Bay is a mix of fictional horror and documentary. Very interesting how a director of a drama can execute a hybrid of Contagion and Paranormal Activity.

The acting is not the most convincing, but it is clear that everyone is trying and everyone took the script seriously. Believe me, it helps the film, or else if the panic factor dies off as well, this would be most uninteresting. Despite Kristen Connolly doing a very minor role this time around, it is still great to see her on screen after she impressed me with her previous film, The Cabin in the Woods. I would not call The Bay a step up for her, but it keeps her positively noticeable. Unfortunately, the film does not emphasis on performance, but instead on scares. In a way, it hurts and helps.

The film is disturbing, without a doubt, but a good half of it comes from visual aids. If you are the type who can take blood and violence but cannot take disgusting images of disease symptoms, be warned: This is not a film for you. This is also where the problem of The Bay begins to slowly unfold.

The film may bring about the scare of a possible parasitic outbreak, but it gives no suggestion of what to do, it explores no themes, and it makes no points nor gives us a piece of its mind. Going back to Soderbergh, Contagion made a much longer imprint due to its bigger scale, its exploration of characters, and the impact of the outbreak, from disturbing to emotional. With all dimensions covered, the film just received another layer of gold over it, and it just feels one rank higher in realism compared to a simplistic film like The Bay. When the first disturbing visual came up, I felt uneasy. When the twentieth disturbing visual came up, I realized that this is all The Bay has to offer.

The Bay is undoubtedly scary and unsettling to some viewers, but it does not provide a striking core that can last through the years. It is a film that came and went, and that is probably the saddest element about Levinson's little movie. It could have been something much bigger, but instead it played safe. Too safe.

In conclusion, The Bay is a tense but unmemorable flick surprisingly well directed by a director we would have never predicted. If you are grading The Bay on a curve, it is one of the superior found footage films, where it combines amateur camerawork with Skype calls, texts, emails, and surveillance cameras. However, even when it is disturbing, it does not present any message whatsoever and has no lasting factor. Except you might stare at your glass of water for a few seconds before you drink it.

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