Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"The Bay" Movie Review – Leave Mother Nature Alone

Rating: R
Length: 84 minutes
Release Date: November 2, 2012
Director: Barry Levinson

We see a lot of horror movies that deal with Mother Nature rearing her ugly head, but "The Bay" focuses on what happens when human beings screw with ecology.

Donna is quite possibly the worst reporter on the face of the earth. Sent to a small New England town to do a story on its Fourth of July celebration, she's filming the downtown celebration when she hears a report of a domestic abuse situation turned murder. Grabbing her camera man, she starts her report on the scene only to learn that what's happening goes beyond a simple murder.

One by one, other people in town start dying of mysterious circumstances, and even more residents find themselves going to the hospital to seek help. They notice weird rashes popping up and other symptoms plaguing them. The main doctor in town does what he can, but he also sends footage to the CDC in hopes of getting help. "The Bay" also tells us that this true story was covered up by the government and that all footage left is what we see in the film. Everything might be connected to the fish that started turning up dead in the local water source, which just so happens to be what most people in town drink.

"The Bay" is one of the few found footage films of recent years that I actually enjoyed. Instead of using a single camera to show the action, the director does a smart job of introducing other camera types and views. We might see one scene from the camera attached to a police car, another scene shot with surveillance footage, and another camera from inside the hospital. Plus we have our trusty report with her powerful camera. We even get a few scenes from characters sending video messages with their cell phones or filming footage from their computers.

Some of the early reviews I read whined and complained about how "The Bay" was Levinson's pet project and spent too much time talking about how people should take care of the environment. Those reviews basically said that this was an ecological horror movie that focused on what will happen if we keep screwing up the environment. Those moments are in the film, but there are so many other great moments that I barely paid attention to the greater message.

"The Bay" never shies away from the action. We see some of the goriest things I've seen in recent years, and the camera is always there when something happens. The main issue that I had with the film was the character of Donna. The film sets it up that she's a new reporter, or possibly an intern, and this is her big break. All that really does is give her an excuse to act like a novice. Between her whining and crying, I just wanted her to go away. The moments where she doesn't appear and the film focuses on other characters are far better than the scenes where she's on film.

Not everyone with enjoy "The Bay," but it is a solid film. It had just the right amount of gore and an interesting story, which kept me entertained for much of the runtime.

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