17th Mar2013

‘The Bay’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Kristen Connolly, Will Rogers, Christopher Denham | Written by Barry Levinson, Michael Wallach | Directed by Barry Levinson

The Bay

Just when you thought the found-footage film was dead, along comes Barry Levinson, director of Rain Man, Sleepers, Toys and many more; this time teaming up with the producers of Sinister and Insidious for another entry into the found-footage sub-genre with The Bay, a disturbing of an tale of an ecological nightmare wrought large on a small town in the US.

The quaint coastal town of Claridge, Maryland thrives on the safe, tranquil and abundant waters of Chesapeake Bay. During their annual Independence Day celebrations, a gruesome plague is unleashed, quickly infecting the residents and turning them against each other.

Both written and directed by Levinson, you realise pretty quickly that The Bay is different from a lot of it’s camcorder compatriots, going one step further than your usual found-footage flick, not only using shaky-cam footage we come to expect from these types of films but also footage from mobile phones, TV reports, CCTV, 911 recordings and web cams, to present a realistic look at the descent of a small town into absolute terror. And it’s  the segments of the film that feature just the 911 recordings – for once the filmmakers leave the actual events to your imagination – that actually make for more effective parts of the film. But don’t think for a second that The Bay scrimps on the gore – hell no! There are decomposing bodies galore, riddled with a flesh-eating infection – including a fantastic scene in which a faceless body moves his eyes which made even this jaded horror fan jump, and some vomit-inducing scenes of isopod infestations…

Part Outbreak and part Jaws, The Bay is, despite any reservations I had over this being yet another found footage film, a tremendous achievement in storytelling. The story unfolds post-event, narrated by the only survivor and mixes media to great effect, presenting events in the style of a “true-life” documentary you’d expect to see on the Crime & Investigation network.

With The Bay Levinson and co. have managed to create a found-footage film that even I enjoyed – and, given my predilection for hating this sub-genre of horror, that has to be seen as a real achievement!

**** 4/5

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