Few found footage films are effective and as disturbing as director Barry Levinson’s The Bay (2012). Pandemonium erupts in a small town in Maryland when a mutated aquatic parasite descends upon the town residents. In what can be mistaken as simply a “Jaws”-like setup, both townsfolk and tourists are on tap for a huge weekend party when a seemingly harmless aquatic life form mutates due to the dumping of chemicals in the local waterways.
The film is composed of a collection of found videos by citizens and tourists depicting the events of what happened so you get the story from many different perspectives. The “water lice” as they are more commonly known usually only affect fish and other small aquatic life forms but they now have grown to be a foot or more larger and threaten the human populace as once you are bitten you become infected with the creatures eggs which then hatch inside you feeding on your insides until they burst out and repeat the process on another victim.
With a screenplay by Michael Wallach, Levinson has crafted a tense horror thriller that manages to piece all the different stories together in a logical and suspenseful manner. The most effective aspect of the film is that Levinson is an expert at telling a good story and the found footage aesthetic is just the means by which he achieves it. He doesn’t allow the conventions of the found footage film bog the film down but escalates the plot and characters to a degree not commonly seen in these types of films.
The film starts off as a tense thriller but by the final frame Levinson lets the blood and gore fly. What also elevates this film over other found footage film is the social commentary contained within about the dangers of pollution and the continuing pollution of the Earth’s water resources by industry plants.
The Bay is one of the better found footage films and horror films in general that should not be missed.