The Bay is one of those films that, for a while, refused to dismount all your favourite horror sites, instead riding a wave of publicity that saw its posters, trailers, and clips trickle down to a (generally) not-too-bothered fan base. Considering the fact that Barry Levinson (Rain Man) is in the director’s chair it’s easy to see why The Bay is getting so much attention.
The Bay takes Jaws, Piranha, our terror for ecological disaster and conspiratorial governments, mixes them up, plants them in an adorable wee fishing town in Maryland then lets everything spiral out of control. Amateur reporter Donna Thompson recalls all this three years later, narrating the patchwork of news coverage, home movie, and CCTV that has been salvaged since the terrible events of July 4th 2009, when a mysterious plague swept through the town.
Levinson tackles the beginnings of the epidemic with ease, carefully constructing a community so idyllic its almost queasy. The initial signs of trouble slip quickly into a fully-fledged plague-like affair but it’s those first moments of panic and terror that are presented in a much more sombre tone to help to set the film’s regretful mood. Unfortunately the last half skips on tension: suddenly everyone is dead and people blowing their brains out on first signs of itchy patches. The film just seems to lose itself in the imagery of chaos, enjoying the sight of panic and eventual silence more than trying to relay that disorientation to the audience.
Cut with all the finesse of a five year old with ADHD, The Bay squanders a nice tense first half by trying to spread itself over too much ground in the last. Jumping between perspectives should have given the story a much needed scope but it doesn’t pull off. ‘From the producers of Insidious and Sinister’ is what you’ll find proudly flaunted close to the film’s title in any publication, notice the pattern of naff third acts emerging here. Hopefully the producers will too.
One of the more interesting found-footage escapades of the past few years, The Bay fails to close the curtain on a successful feature, losing its way after a great set-up. However there are still a good few moments and a squeamish enough creature to sustain some frights.
Dir. Barry Levinson
Stars. Will Rogers, Kristen Connolly, Kether Donohue, Frank Deal, Nansi Aluka, Justin Welborn