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THE BAY
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Barry Levinson

Starring:
Kristin Connolly
Kether Donohue
Jane Mcneill

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
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.
The Extras
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.
Last Call
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.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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