Distributor: Momentum Pictures
BBFC Classification: 15
Director: Barry Levinson
Starring: Will Rogers, Kristen Connolly, Kether Donohue, Nansi Aluka, Frank Deal
“Oh good!” was the sardonic response as another found footage potential cure for insomnia was loaded into the DVD player, but The Bay has a little bit more of a pedigree than most, being directed by Barry Levinson (Sleepers/Good Morning, Vietnam) and produced by Steven Schneider and Jason Blum (Insidious/Paranormal Activity).
The film begins with a webcam video from amateur reporter Donna Thompson (Kether Donohue) setting up the framework for the events that happened during the fourth of July celebrations in Claridge, Maryland. Using footage sourced from cameras, mobile phones and television broadcasts we learn a bit of the town’s history and how the local bureaucracy had installed a water filtration system to help feed the local livestock to help improve farming. But what has all of this to do with why people are suddenly getting sick and breaking out in sores, and what really happened to two research divers who were found dead in the nearby bay?
Drawing inspiration from many different sources, including The Crazies, Godzilla, Piranha, Contagion and countless B-movie creature features, The Bay is a collage of video formats pieced together to form a cohesive narrative/report that really captures what all of these found footage films are aiming for but few succeed in hitting. The various plot strands are woven together to form a story that begins long before the main event, making the first act pretty electrifying in its build-up despite the fact you already know the outcome of all of these story arcs.
There are a few nit-picks here and there but once you apply movie logic or accept that there will be certain plot conveniences that are needed to help the story move along then The Bay succeeds in doing what it sets out to do, unlike the endless stream of similarly-filmed supernatural turds that either get more and more silly or go the other way and completely underwhelm. It isn’t a perfect film but it is a good film, clocking in at a trim 84 minutes and keeping the balance between decent gore and sharp script pretty consistent throughout. The performances don’t stoop to the annoying levels that the likes of Paranormal Activity or Grave Encounters seem to revel in and the idea of using footage from various sources means you don’t have to get over the ridiculous conceit that one person would keep on filming events without ever switching the camera off (because if it isn’t on camera then it isn’t real, right?), so for the first time in a long while it seems we have a found footage shocker that does exactly what a found footage shocker should do and that is deliver on the feeling that this is all really happening in front of us. Amazing what a difference using an experienced director can make…
Special Features: Inside the Bay featurette, theatrical trailer.
UK Release Date: 18th March 2013