If there has ever been a film meant to prey on our slightest fear of the basic things we as humans come into contact with on a daily basis then THE BAY is hands down the one you can point to when your doctor asks why you why you call every hour thinking you’ve come down with something. The weird thing about a film like THE BAY disturbing me so much is that I don’t think in the end it’s that great of a movie. Elements here and there are well done and are effective at getting under my skin, but others are just plain boring.
Displayed in the faux-documentary style the film tells the story of an environmental disaster that “was never released to the public” as told from the perspective of an aspiring reporter and a wide variety of footage shot from several cameras that were confiscated after the event. The disaster starts to take shape weeks before a small town in Maryland’s 4th of July celebration where people start to suffer the intense and sudden effects that pollution and radiation leaks have on isopods in the bay area’s water that also leaks into their drinking water.
The previous summary might seem like it ends on a spoiler, but essentially there are no huge twists and turns in the film. Everything is set out in front of the audience from the get go with gradual pieces of info falling into place in terms of what caused the issue. The narrator of the story even announces people on screen dying within the first few minutes of the film even before the disaster starts to unfold. The only spoilers for this film would be to talk specifically about stuff that happens to people towards the end of the film and I’m not about to start doing that.
The video quality, as is the case with many found footage movies is shaky, blurry and glitchy- also part of the point for the faux-doc style. There is text stating that the footage was damaged or enhanced acting as ways to present things being in horrible quality or vice versa. It’s actually an interesting way to present the footage as there are newscasts as well, giving it that extra layer of plausibility, since there are aspects here that are frighteningly plausible.
People unfamiliar with what an isopod is I will tell you that they are nasty little beetle looking things that enter your body lay their larva which then proceed to eat your intestines and work their way out. It’s a terrifying thought and one that does still have me looking suspiciously at every glass of water in front of me since I watched the film. Everything involving the little creepy crawlies tend to be the best, most effective moments of the film which includes some of the more gruesome effects the parasite has.
THE BAY goes for a naturalistic feel which means the acting suffers, but works for the more realistic approach to its story and visuals. The documentary approach makes for some very slow and plodding sections of footage, but the overall effect cannot be denied. Truth of the matter is while I am not over the moon about my opinion of THE BAY overall; it still got under my skin with the more horrific aspects and with some of the striking imagery used to tell its story. Even for a fake narrative the film is not for the squeamish or easily paranoid about their health- my only advice is to stock up on bottled water and lots of hand sanitizer.
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)