Dir. Barry Levinson
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
There used to be Universal, then there was Hammer now there is Blumhouse. Jason Blum has had his name attached to some of the greatest horror films made in the past years including PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, SINISTER and INSIDIOUS and now we have THE BAY.
Set in the fictional town of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, the events of what occurred are told by Donna Thompson (Kether Donahue), one survivor, via footage unearthed from July 4th 2009. A true event of chaos that was covered up by the government in which hundreds died to a cause which to many was unknown.
Pacing itself through the July 4th parades, it soon becomes apparent that all is not well as people start coming out in boils and skin irritations. As the hospital fills out it escalates to the Centre for Medical Disease Control and Prevention and focuses back and forth to uncover the root cause to this pandemic.
As the footage unfolds, it is evident that something has contaminated the water, from which is sourced from the bay. As the townsfolk panic and the population rapidly reaches single figures, the few survivors and travellers into town find a race against time before their number is up.
What director Barry Levinson (RAIN MAN) manages to capture is the belief that this mockumentary is the real deal. You can’t help but feel like you are watching a feature length special on the discovery channel. The believable performances by the cast including Kristen Connolly (THE CABIN IN THE WOODs), Will Rogers (NANCY, PLEASE) and Frank Deal (THE BOURNE LEGACY) manages to keep you believing in a way not seen since THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT back in 1999.
The horrifying events and some of the emotional turmoil seen because of it all manage to tear your mind and will leave you wanting to dig deeper and research the film.
And that’s the only snag. THE BAY manages to be a fantastic documentary but also loses out on what it ultimately is meant to be… a film. While the unfolding chaos is filmed behind the mind of a brilliant director, his lack of horror experience begins to show as by the 84 minute mark, you ask yourself the question, where were the scares? A documentary with no truth, nothing to keep you awake at night and all in all a rather pointless experience, neither “entertaining” nor educational.
It’s hard to rate a found footage film for being too believable and with the likes of GRAVE ENCOUNTERS and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY taking the format and an unbelievable scenario being far more entertaining. THE BAY falls short behind fantastic direction, actors and script that sometimes, we all need a little of the unbelievable to keep us entertained.