The Bay (2012)

The Bay (2012)

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"I think I might be a bit sick..."
“I think I might be a bit sick…”

Twitter Plot Summary: A reporter discusses a parasitic outbreak in Chesapeake Bay that wasn’t mentioned in the media.

Five Point Summary:

1. Vomiting! Yay!
2. Creepy crawly bugs.
3. Possible zombies?
4. That man has no tongue.
5. Jump scare!

Ahh, another “found footage” style horror movie. Just what I wanted. I may be unduly harsh towards said movie style, but if done well it can be a very entertaining movie. If done badly it just leaves you lamenting the fact the genre exists. The Bay has that unfortunate distinction of being ever so slightly above average rather than absolutely terrible or absolutely amazing – there are some very good moments but lacks “oomph” when considered in its entirety. Keeping the action contained to a small town in America, it depicts the effects of a parasitic outbreak and its effects on the populace – essentially another of those modern day “infected” zombie films.

My problem with The Bay is that whilst it portrays a mostly believable docu-drama style depiction of a parasitic outbreak, it lacks that certain something that would make it thoroughly engaging. Most of the core narrative is led by reporter Donna, recounting the outbreak to camera, but in my opinion there is little dramatic tension because you know she’s going to survive and that you know from the outset that the outbreak was contained. There are a couple of good scares, but for the most part it ‘s more psychological than anything else, putting yourself in the shoes of the people caught up in the outbreak.

Too much reality TV has this effect.
Too much reality TV has this effect.

On the other hand, it does go to some lengths to get the medical aspects of the outbreak right, and the effects of said parasites start small and gradually increase in both scale and impact as more symptoms become apparent. It’s clear that the writers did some extensive research in this area and in many ways it’s more of a study about the ecological and physiological effects of a parasitic infection rather than a horror movie. This is perfectly fine, because there is also a decent amount of gore and violence to satiate the horror crowd, but if you look beyond this it’s also clearly a film with a message behind it. You may also be surprised when you realise that this film was directed by Barry Levinson, he of Rain Man and Good Morning, Vietnam fame. This would go some way to explaining why it’s as deep as it is in terms of the background message and also why it’s as competently structured as it is.

Despite my negativity towards the found footage genre, The Bay is at least consistent and the story flows nicely, and there are a few good jumps and scares to justify using the format. By the final act we’re in full-fledged outbreak mode, as those in the medical profession battle to stop it spreading and the residents of the town try to either avoid infection or just stay alive. It’s a very gradual build-up to the low-key but powerful finale, however I think it would have worked better by drawing focus in on one or two sets of characters rather than branching the story the way it did. Still, it does at least feel realistic and an entirely plausible situation.

Score: 3/5

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