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The Bay

November 8, 2012

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Found footage eco-terror directed by Oscar winner Barry Levinson. The movie features footage recovered from a wikileaks type source that features the parasitic carnage that destroyed the small city of Claridge, Maryland in 2009.

The Bay strays away from the mutants in Chernobyl and angry ghosts named Toby stalking children. It shoves the ecological message down your throat and proves that isopods are jerks. What bothered me is the eco-torture porn vibe Levinson created. Levinson has a message to push and he wants you to see so much blood you feel compelled to seek out and punch whoever might foster the growth of angry sea creatures. The exorcise feels created to illicit a manicured response. Gone is the unpredictable nature that found footage films need to create to be successful. There is no ambiguous ending or unexplained creature terrorizing the citizens. It is a man made creation that that is initially ignored by the CDC, EPA and NWO (Hulk Hogan wants nothing to do with isopodes).

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Politics has long been a staple of horror films. George Romero, Wes Craven and John Carpenter successfully incorporated greed, bureaucratic governments and war into classic films that didn’t feel overly preachy. They were bloody, dangerous and highly intelligent. You liked the characters and the message was buried in the carnage. The Bay feels like Levinson wanted to discuss isopods and pollution so he made a message film with occasional gore and government incompetence.

It is never scary and occasionally gross. The parasites infect the body and produces lesions, bubbles and lots of  puked up blood. The isopods are insect like aquatic creatures mutated by drainage from a chicken-processing plant and other shady environmental dealings. They get inside the town folk bodies, eat them alive and create lots of gore. 

The movie falters when it tries to create suspense. Levinson seems more interested in bashing the EPA than scaring the audience. Also, I’ve said it time and time again that found footage movies live and die with the actors. The successful FF films like Blair Witch, Paranormal Activity and The Last Exorcism (Cotton Marcus) work because the actors pull of the “natural acting” without making it seemed forced. The best thing those films had going for them is that there wasn’t a blueprint of natural acting to mimic. Now, it seems like actors are acting natural. The lead character in this film Kether Donohue tries her best but it always feels like she is acting.

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The best thing The Bay has going for it is the occasional feeling of dread created knowing that people have creatures eating them from the inside out. The concept is neat, the wikileaks footage is grounded in reality and the gore is suitably gory. The biggest problem is the lack of suspense and knowledge of what will happen. At least fantastically bad FF films like Apollo 18 are so insane you never know what will happen or why the moon rocks are so angry. Also, with Chernobyl Diaries you know the characters will do something dumb but you never know how dumb.

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