Barry Levinson's found footage parasite horror screened at FrightFest at Glasgow Film Festival 2013
The Bay is a strange film to come from Barry Levinson: you don’t expect a found footage horror from the director of Rain Man, Good Morning, Vietnam and Wag the Dog. The format is usually the first choice for first time directors trying to make an impact with a minimal budget. Where Levinson really shows his experience is in choosing not to make a ghost story, the subgenre’s most tired cliché; secondly, he’s managed to construct a film from fake Skype, home video and news footage to create something that feels believable. It feels like people might really be documenting these events - you won’t be shouting at the screen ‘just put the camera down and run’ as the protagonist carries on filming way past any realistic point.
In terms of story it’s basically Jaws with parasites told via a mock whistle-blowing documentary. It all starts so innocently on a sunny Fourth of July celebration in Claridge, a small costal town in Chesapeake Bay. Then all hell breaks loose as a mysterious outbreak decimates the population. There’s an environmental slant as pollution, radiation and run off from a chicken farm mutates fish parasites so they move up the food chain and infect man. If you drink or swim in the water you're likely to become infected as the parasites eat you from within.
It’s cleverly put together, the threat nicely revealed via various footage and is never over exaggerated to such an extent that it loses touch with reality. There are a few gross-out moments that will definitely make your skin crawl. However the multiple sources and multiple viewpoints mean there is minimal character development. The ending is a bit of an anticlimax but in many ways that also makes it feel more authentic.