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The Bay

The Bay: Ambitious Eco-Horror

  • Anthony ReynoldsJane McNeill...
  • HorrorScience Fiction
  • Barry Levinson
reviewed by
Marija Loncarevic
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The Bay: Ambitious Eco-Horror
With the long-line of classic films such as Rain Man, Bugsy and Good Morning Vietnam attached to his name, one can safely say that the Academy-award winning director, Barry Levinson, has made quite an impressive contribution to the world of cinema.

Regrettably, one cannot say the same after viewing the director’s latest feature. The Bay – a fictional eco-horror film – finds the director in a found-footage overload and his efforts enter some very ambitious and murky waters. 

The story is a compilation of footage from the 4th July celebrations that took place in a fictional town of Claridge, Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay back in 2009.   

Relaying the story of the fictional ecological horror that occurred that day is told three years later by Donna Thompson (Donohue); a former student journalist and a survivor who was broadcasting the celebrations that day.  Donna recounts the events to an unknown and an unseen caller, as she sits behind her laptop camera, all whilst presenting footage she’s assembled that the government supposedly tried to suppress.

In the course of a single day, the little seaside town is swept over seaborne parasites and the result is less than desirable; mysterious skin growths, rashes, missing tongues and an overall state of mayhem.  As the film digs ‘deeper’, a link between a nearby poultry processing facility and the found-footage from a couple of oceanic researchers is established, revealing disturbing results.

Levinson, along with the writing efforts of Michael Wallach, have all of the basic elements required for a solid horror film, however, their execution falls short.  Shot entirely as found-footage, the story’s credibility does manage to creep up on you.  Then again, its excess use of news footage, surveillance videos, police cams and one too many Skype chats makes this entire setting rather off-putting. 

Plot holes are many and the character-building that this story so desperately needed is nothing but disappointing. Furthermore, once all of the evidence of the tragedy is revealed, Levinson seems to lose focus and the emotional payoff is cheap and underwhelming.

Surprisingly, the relatively unknown cast does an ok job at keeping the chaotic situation grounded. Donohue, who is the narrative focus of the film, projected sincerity and general likeability. The rest of the cast was relatively reasonable; however, most of them were quickly abandoned along with the purpose of the narrative.   

Taken as whole, The Bay is a little too ambitious for its own good and its single-minded ecological focus chips away at the tension needed in the typical setting of a horror flick.

Like This? Try

Contagion (2011),  28 Days Later (2002), Outbreak (1995)

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Barry Levinson is famous for frequently casting Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman in his films. Luckily, neither of the veteran actors were cast in Levinson's latest debacle. 

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