Saturday, July 17, 2021

Movie Reviews: The Bay

The Bay
directed by Barry Levinson
This older film is an found footage eco-horror movie that is similar to the Nick Cutter book The Troop, reviewed here. I think the The Troop is a better book than The Bay is a film. 
But The Bay is not a bad film. 
Because the conceit is that The Bay depicts real events that were all captured on film by less than state of art lighting and cameras, the movie does deliberately look less than high quality most of the time. But this is really smart for the film's premise, which is that multiple video and audio sources have been retrieved and are being leaked to the public as a somber warning. 
Events that may or may not be caused by climate change have been in the news lately-fires and water shortages out west, warming seas, lampreys and mussels in the Great Lakes, flooding in Germany, maybe even the Covid-19 pandemic. 
Once a system is broken or changed is that it can be difficult or even impossible to change it back. Humans can lack the knowledge to restore a delicate balance that Nature found for a given environment. 
Humans or animals eat foods that were not designed for them. Humans overuse antibiotics or pesticides and end up with lowered or no resistance to some very nasty critters and parasites.  Predators or pests are introduced into environments where they have no natural limit. Problems arise. 
People especially disagree on solutions when a solution costs money.
Donna Thompson (Kether Donohoe) is a newbie TV reporter who is assigned to cover the July 4 festivities in the Maryland town of Claridge which lies on the Chesapeake Bay. Donna is ecstatic to have her first independent assignment, even if the older reporters are less interested in what they assume will be just another boring 45 second cut talking about crab eating contests, interviews with the mayor (Frank Deal), and of course fireworks.
It becomes apparent almost immediately, however that something isn't right in Claridge. Donna's first clue is when people become nauseous, vomit, or break out in boils and lesions. Most of these folks have been in the water or eaten seafood. The rest of the story is told in various flashbacks and forward jumps from videos that have been leaked to Donna, who is apparently in an undisclosed location somewhere. 
I always have a soft spot for body horror movies. There is something particularly disturbing about the idea that your body can be hijacked by an organism against which you have no defense. Obviously this film also has a lot to say about the dangers of government bureaucracy and unrestrained capitalism. 
It took the sense of random reality very seriously. It might have had a stronger narrative sense if it had maintained tight focus on one or two people (e.g. Donna) as they struggled to understand and survive. There are the normal number of jump scares. There is some violence but the real scares are (a) physical disgust at body deterioration and (b) anger at what greed and laziness can cause.
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