The film documents a short period of time around the fourth of July in Claridge, a fictional bay in Maryland, US. A deadly parasitic outbreak occurs thanks to pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, and the government is less than keen to get involved. As tens of people fill up the hospital waiting room showing the same horrible symptoms (nasty blistering rashes on the skin, even some with half their tongues missing!) suspicions begin to arise about what it is that’s actually causing it. Several years later, Donna (Kether Donohue) who was a journalist intern at the time of the outbreak, decides to release her footage to the world, along with some other footage conveniently filmed by unsuspecting victims just moments before horror struck.
Produced by Jason Blum, who has an impressive filmography including two recent and decent horror films Insidious and Sinister and other great films such as Lawless, The Purge and Paranormal Activity, The Bay is less of a found footage horror as it is a slow paced, uninspiring amateur documentary. It feels contrived from start to finish, with characters filming mundane aspects of their lives. While Paranormal Activity actually gave its protagonists a decent reason to film their every move, The Bay leaves you unable to invest in the story because of the unlikeliness of the majority of the ‘found footage’. Piecing together a story, or a recount of an event, through discovered personal footage, answer phone messages, texts and video
calls is a clever idea and in a relatively cleverly constructed attempt to make it realistic some of the footage has been edited to appear water damaged. There is authenticity there, but the majority of the personal footage is so unlikely and unrealistic that it near ruins the film.
Despite claims on the DVD cover to be like Spanish found footage [REC], The Bay is lacklustre and feels amateur. It’s boring, the science is claimed to be 80% correct by director Barry Levinson, but at times -well, most of the time actually- it feels tenuous and made up. The found footage style is taken to a new level of blurry, shaky and uncomfortable to watch and people that already struggle with the shaky style of films like Paranormal Activity had best stay clear. There is no visual beauty about the film at all and although some of the editing, like the water damaged footage is quite clever, and while plenty of time probably went in to piecing together a story with random mediums from all different ‘characters’ the overall feel is that the film lacks quality and technical skill.
The Bay is a boring watch and about as scary as an episode of Sesame Street. There is nothing worth mentioning that redeems the film in the slightest; it’s tenuous, yawn-inducing and brilliant proof that found-footage horror films are a thing of the past. Don’t waste your time.