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Wednesday, 14 November 2012

(aka Don't Drink the Water )
Release Date: On VOD/in Limited Release now.
Country: USA
Written by: Michael Wallach.
Directed by: Barry Levinson. 
Starring: Kether Donahue and Kristen Connolly. 

In a genre that seems to be overrun with Found Footage/First Person/POV movies galore, can a multiple Academy Award winning director give us a fresh and effective take on the whole "reality" shtick?

He can sure as hell try!

Let's get one thing straight here; Barry Levinson is a great director. Sure, he hasn't had a hit in a while, but the man gave us Diner, The Natural, Good Morning Vietnam, Rain Man, Sleepers and Wag the Dog, all of which were great movies.

For his first foray into the genre that we love and hold so dear, we have to say that he did alright. That's not to say that The Bay doesn't suffer from the same weak points that most Found Footage flicks do, because it does, but the movie overall ends up being fairly servicable, which is better than being bad, I suppose.

There's a massive cover-up going on in Maryland, folks, and it's a big one! You see, there are these chickens that are on crazy amounts of steroids, which take massive super-shits, which the chicken farmers dump by the ton (millions of pounds, according to the movie) into the Chesapeake Bay, which causes these creepy parasites to mutate and kill every fish in the Bay, and eventually start in on the humans. There's also something about a Nuclear reactor leaking into the waters of the famous estuary as well, which probably didn't help matters at all, but who can say.

That's not normal.

Cub reporter Donna Thompson is in the small town of Claridge, Maryland to cover the local 4th of July festivities, when people start developing angry rashes, which are all full of boils and pustules. Little does anyone know that they have parasites inside of them, and that pretty soon they are all going to be chewed up and eaten from the inside. Well, the Mayor kinda knew it was coming, but he didn't seem to alarmed by the whole thing.

"I'm going to get to the bottom of this!" (Good luck with that, Honey.)

Everyone starts getting sick and dying, but lucky for us there are a bunch of people who are willing to film every single thing that happens. The CDC won't help, and the Government doesn't seem particularly interested that an entire town is essentially being eaten alive, but the simple folk are there to film it all. God Bless America!

Maybe she's just sleeping and got a nosebleed?

All of the standard Found Footage tomfoolery ensues. Nothing else to report here folks, let's move along now.
The Bay did a great job of plucking our chords to the tune of being grossed out and making us feel uneasy. The fact that deep sea Isopods not only exist, but actually get up inside of things and eat their tongues, is a pretty creepy idea. The idea of them getting into the human body and eating their way out makes for a pretty compelling movie idea. This movie will definitely skeeve the squeamish right out.

The Script, the acting and the whole verite-style camera work aren't anything to write home about, but the movie is definitely viscerally pleasing.

This shit is real. (The creature, not the threat.)
I'm waiting for a FF flick to come along that offers me some characters that actually think and behave like a normal person would. Everyone is being eaten alive by a viral outbreak of some sort, and you're sticking your head in a fountain because "man, it's just so hot out?" Right. Cops letting their partners go into dark homes alone, the CDC showing no urgency whatsoever to help an essentially dying town ("We just don't know what it could be."), a mother thinks that walking through a corpse-littered town with an infant is rational, a kid jumps in to the water to try and save his girlfriend who is under attack, and he keeps filming... Come on. From now on, can the writers of these FF flicks please take an extra week or two to come up with some plausible situations that don't insult my intelligence? Please?!?

I have zero sympathy for you or your baby, dumb ass.
After finding everyone dead in the streets of port you just docked in, why in the world would you not get back on your boat and leave? I'm talking bloody, messy bodies strewn up and down the streets, with no sign of life anywhere. Oh, you're out of gas? Then fuel up and leave, idiots, you have a frigging infant to look after! Ridiculous plot points like this are why Found Footage/POV flicks fail as a whole; the realism seems way too far fetched.

We know that feel, bro.
Some of this movie works really well, while the rest of it just feels ridiculous and over-familiar. It's definitely gory and unsettling, and in that it may find its audience. With all of the lame trappings of the Found Footage sub-genre polluting its waters though, The Bay never really gets a chance to be much more than one of the "another one of those" type of movies. Levinson is a great director, we just wish he'd made this one a bit more straightforward and less gimmicky, because there's really some good ideas going on here. It's a mess, but a mostly salvagable one. Watch at your own risk.

Not even the sweetness of Kristen Connolly could make this movie truly enjoyable. At least she was in Cabin in the Woods earlier this year... that was a good one.


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