Levinson goes to found footage town. That’s one way to describe The Bay. This is an attempt by a very successful director to tackle a shooting style that handles the big guns… the big name movies. Movies like Wag the Dog and Sleepers. He runs the gamut when it comes to genres and subject matters he’s willing to tackle. Adventurous and controversial. The Bay fits right in with its scathing critique of the alphabet soup bureaucracy that is spewing out of
like a Campbell’s
soup factory. It’s a look at how interagency communication breaks down and we,
the people, suffer. Not so out of line when you look at Levinson’s criticism on
countless social issues especially a movie like Wag the Dog that discusses the
election system for what it really is, Sleepers that attacks the juvenile
correctional system and You Don’t Know Jack that offers an opine on the right
to die. What is somewhat out of
character for this director is his use of horror elements and special effects
driven storytelling to shock the audience into listening. Yes, Barry Levinson
directed Sphere which was a beautiful if not grandiose display of effect driven
cinema, but The Bay cries for blood, gets the blood and then slurps it down
with a wretching bowl of vomit and bile.
Found footage is dead. How often have you heard that sentiment lately? How often have you yourself uttered a complete disapproval with the continuation to use this shooting style and method of storytelling? I’m not thrilled with all of it, but some of it works exceptionally well. When the director is willing to take on unique camera angle, multiple camera storytelling and create drama and personal characterization all with the cold, expose style of filmmaking then you’ll have a successful found footage picture. This is the case with The Bay. It uses a variety of techniques some that have been seen before others that are used in a refreshing way to convey shock, dread and a social statement that demands the generation of fear take up the flag of personal safety and a more global health conscience. Found footage ain’t dead, and there’s plenty to enjoy about this style. Grave Encounters and it’s off the wall sequel. REC… all of them including the most recent incarnation that actually takes a direction away from the “camera as the actor” approach. How about Atrocious? How about the success of Paranormal Activity that may not necessarily be what horror fans want to see, but it keeps horror in the public eye and allowing other genre movies to be made with its financial success? This does not excuse bad found footage. This is not an apology or a hall pass. The Bay is something different.
For however effective this movie is, it’s also just flat out entertaining. Gore fans will get a little something something. The suspense crowd will hold their breath. The Bay isn’t so heady or artsy that it will attach the casual viewer or prevent a layman from enjoying it. Simply put… The Bay is a monster movie. Sure the monster is a parasitic creature from the ocean, but when you watch it you’ll be feeling a little Cronenberg and can even see influence of movies like The Host behind its eyes. It may not be a true “giant monster” movie and no one will confuse it for Kaiju. It’s a disease film like Contagion with the living, breathing villain that has tactile appeal and can make an audience wretch. Forget tape worms, you have isopods to worry about. If Jaws didn’t scare you out of the ocean, Levinson’s offering will certainly terrify you out of the
Note: This is Michael Wallach’s first writing effort. Good job. This kind of storytelling doesn’t lend itself to complexity. It’s more formulaic now then it was in the 50’s when the Martians were the parasites and McCarthy was rearing his ugly head. You’ll find just a hint of Invasion of the Body Snatchers buried in the subtext of The Bay, but really, I was thinking Cronenberg’s Shivers the whole time. Wallach excels at taking the simple and revealing it to us through good characterization and multiple plot threads that cut to the core of the overlaying dilemma.
So you don’t like found footage and think that movement has gone the way of the dildo…I mean Dodo? Then maybe you should stay away from this movie. Nothing is going to allow you to enjoy this if you can’t get beyond the shooting style or method of story telling. Remember how Chronicle felt? It was a true
Hollywood production that was shot
in the FF style and felt like a MOVIE and not like some misadventure into
camera shake. That’s The Bay. High caliber filmmaking and storytelling with
gruesome, subtle, icky effects and a premise that will get you thinking, and as
we all know… terror is in your own mind. It isn’t something you see on a
screen. It’s the idea in the back of your head as you leave the theater that
the killer is in your back seat… or in the drinking water …or is you for your
own complacency in a failed system.
You can pre-order The Bay on DVD here:
You can pre-order The Bay on DVD here: