Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
What's it about
Something horrible has happened during the fourth of July festivities in the small town of Chesapeake Bay. A woman stumbles through the crowd, begging for help and covered in giant blisters. Naturally, this gets way worse before it gets better.
Is it good movie?
I've actually had the Bay on my "watch" list for quite awhile, but
never really got around to it until it finally quite literally got
dropped into my lap to review it. It would appear that it was worth the
wait, as for some reason this one really hit home for me.
For those of you looking for a love story or perhaps the tale of a Dad
trying to get to his kids who simply saves the day, you can check
elsewhere. Instead of weaving a traditional narrative, the Bay can come
off like a somewhat loose and disjointed series of news reports and
found footage that comes at a time where it just doesn't seem
implausible enough to dismiss.
The biggest chunk of the film's plot is told through a news reporter
(Kether Donohue), who actually managed to escape the events and is
opening up to document what really happened, since the government has
since tried to sweep things under the rug.
The Bay is somewhat slow to get going. Perhaps slow isn't the best way
to describe it, because the action gets a little nasty relatively
quickly, but I will admit that for the first 15-20 minutes or so (and
this one's short, at less than 90 minutes) I was less than captivated.
I figured that this movie would play out sort of like The Crazies, or
another generic sort of "infection makes you crazy" movie.
Instead, it turns out to be a bit of a slow build that ramps up into
insanity really quickly. After some suspicion that the town's water
supply has been polluted by tons of chicken sh*t, the Mayor blows
everything off and glosses over things as politically as possible just
before things go wrong. As our young reporter tries to get the ho-hum
family friendly event coverage, she keeps stumbling upon this horrible
infection that is spreading through the town, capturing it on film. If
you get hooked like I did, you'll find yourself upset while watching
the unsuspecting townsfolk ingesting or otherwise interacting with the
infected water, and on the flipside, angry watching the ways authority
figures treat the incident.
As the film goes on, we check in with different characters through
different accounts (police video, personal cameras, surveillance, cell
phone cameras, text messages) to figure out what they're going through
as it all gets pieced together. We run into a tween girl who's been
abandoned by everyone around her, police who respond to distress calls,
a hospital's doctor who's trying to treat the masses while dealing with
the CDC, and more.
About halfway through the movie, I'll admit that for some reason I
started getting pretty creeped out. There are several reasons for this-
first, the reason for the fast-spreading chaos is really disgusting,
violent and seems just a bit too realistic (within reason, of course).
Secondly, the jump moments just connected with me. I can't tell you why
this one did it to me when I've reviewed hundreds of discs before this,
but there were a couple of moments that really hit me. A particular
scene with a stationary camera outside a home that police were checking
really hit me. It may have been the effective use of audio and the lack
of being able to see what was really going on (you only get to hear
what's happening, not see it), but that was creepy stuff.
Finally, you get the whole political/government/environment aspect of
things which can be every bit as dread-inducing. Regulations aren't up
to snuff, politicians are lying and dismissive, the CDC is ready to
ignore the situation, warnings from experts are ignored and the ones
who suffer most are the ones in the town. The whole thing is
frightening because it all seems so real. Not to mention the fact that
the victims seem to go through a vivid, gory hell when they are taken
over by whatever is in the bay.
To sum up, this environmental terror is best suited for someone looking
for a dose of realistic, documentary-style horror. If you want a more
typical plot, look elsewhere. If you can't stand found footage, this
one won't be for you either.
Video / Audio
1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen is
the order of the day, and each video source looks predictably terrible
or decent as is expected. This isn't an amazing picture, but is exactly
what you'd expect.
Dolby Digital 5.1 is our only
audio selection, and it too follows the same pattern as the video.
Tinny, hard to hear conversations at times, clear voices at other times
depending on the video source.
span style="font-weight: bold;">Into the Unknown: Barry Levinson on
The Bay kind of blends in with the feature commentary he also provides.
The guy's interesting and provides a lot of insight into his
documentary approach to a concept that's been ramped up from events
that have already taken place in real life. Instead of talking about
the honest concerns of Chesapeake Bay, Levinson tells the story of how
he ramps things up and grabs it by the throat. He takes the truth and
turns up the volume. Interesting stuff.
I know that it won't suit all tastes. but I thought the Bay was
effective because it's just so unsettling. The flick moves along with a
tense and urgent pace that is filled with real (albeit exaggerated)
issues. For some reason, it just hit me and worked its way into the pit
of my stomach. Others may not be able to get into it, and I can dig
that vibe. If you're looking for some social commentary wrapped in
environmental horror, this is a Bay you'll want to jump into.