Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mini movie review: The Bay

Did you know that Barry Levinson (Diner, Sleepers, Wag the Dog, Rain Man, The Natural) directed a horror film?  (Did you know that "eco-horror" was even a genre?  I didn't.)  Did you know that it was pretty good?  Not very scary, but interesting, entertaining and well put-together.

The Bay is Chesapeake Bay, once one of the richest estuaries on the planet but now damaged by polluting runoff and overfishing.  A cute little bayside town prepares to celebrate the Independence Day holiday; parades, a crab-eating contest and fireworks are on the schedule.  But people start getting sick - rashes and nasty boils first, then severe gastro-intestinal distress and bleeding - and then people start dying.  Lots of people. Lots and lots of people.

Levinson directed The Bay as a "found footage" film, presenting it as a documentary cobbled together from a college reporter's video, cellphone and Skype footage, cop car dashboard camera recordings.  The college reporter is the film's narrator but the scenes skip around, focusing in on some poor person or horrible situation and then cutting to the next.  I'm doing a terrible job of describing this but the movie actually works pretty well, ratcheting up the tension as scientists and doctors try to figure out what the hell is killing these people.

The Bay could have been scarier - I jumped just once when something scurried - but I enjoyed it; sometimes it's nice to be scared just a little.  Also, note to self:  don't live downstream of a commercial chicken farm.

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