Today: April 19, 2024

The Bay

Considering he’s got an Oscar on the shelf Barry Levinson has been out of the big league for a long time now and The Bay, a found-footage biofear horror, will go little way to resolving that.

Considering
he’s got an Oscar on the shelf Barry
Levinson has been out of the big league for a long time now and The Bay, a found-
footage
biofear horror, will go little way to resolving that.

Dressed as a documentary, The Bay is the ‘true’ story
about a toxic event that was never told.

It is ‘presented’ by former cub reporter Donna (Kether
Donohue
) in an attempt to make sense of what happened to her while she was
covering the seemingly easy story of a small Maryland town’s Fourth of July
celebrations.

Cobbled together from Donna’s own archive and a motherload
of footage filmed by the town’s residents, taken from CCTV and police car
dashcams, the crab-fishing community’s simple celebrations (which bring to mind
the all-American holiday feel at the start of Jaws) descend into chaos
as a mystery virus takes a quick hold.

Adding to the back story is footage of two marine
biologists who, a couple of years earlier, had been investigating pollution
into the bay from a local chicken farm and who had been found dead in the
water.

Rashes break out, bellies become distended, bathers
are attacked and people start dying. Lots of people.

Meanwhile officaldom prevaricates, emergency response
doesn’t respond and the town descends into chaos.

Naturally the camera work is often shaky, occasionally
ill-focused and sometimes confusing.

It’s an unexpected entry by Levinson into the
found-footage genre.

The problem is that he’s coming at it too late for
many to care, because everyone’s already figured out that found-footage is
rubbish. The Blair Witch Project was all hype and no trousers, Cloverfield
was headache-inducing, and the Paranormal Activity films tried their
best to squeeze what little life there was out of the genre.

The Bay touches on some interesting issues – man-made
environmental crime, government apathy, official cover-ups – but makes these
points with a heavy hand.

The genre’s limitations are laid bare. The short
running time reflects the film’s supposed amateur documentary status – it looks
like the sort of film you might find in the internet’s weirder edges – but
doesn’t allow much in the way of narrative drive.

If it seems like a long time since Levinson was the
man with the Midas touch, that’s because it was. He hasn’t made a good film
this century, and his golden age was even further in the past.

His in-the-works John
Gotti
biopic has been much delayed. The Bay feels like something he’s been
doing to fill time.

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