The Bay | Movie review
Barry Levinson dips into the waters of found-footage horror.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, director Barry Levinson shows up with The Bay, a contemporary spin on Jaws’ terrors-of-the-deep formula. As in Steven Spielberg’s classic blockbuster, it’s July 4 in a small coastal town where greedy civic leaders have put private finances ahead of public safety—ignoring the warning signs of something dangerous lurking offshore, until it’s too late to stop it. In Levinson’s version, the monster is a water-borne parasite, and, in a nod to modern horror tastes, the entire film comprises footage “found” by a Wikileaks-style website and narrated by a reporter (Kether Donohue) who was on the ground as the infection began to spread.
Levinson’s use of found footage showcases the aesthetic’s strengths and weaknesses. It allows the director to paint a comprehensive portrait of a vacation spot swiftly descending into chaos, but the veneer of realism amplifies all of the screenplay’s most clichéd constructions, like the oceanographer with a thick French accent on hand purely for exposition and comic relief. Still, you don’t need to be a germaphobe to feel shivers down your spine as Marylanders are unsuspectingly infected with microbic death from the Chesapeake waters. (“Some went into my mouth!” one character chuckles in a particularly wicked bit of foreshadowing.) We’re gonna need a bigger bottle of hand sanitizer.