Starring: Kether Donohue, Kristen Connolly, Anthony Reynolds, Michael Beasley, Jane McNeil, Stephen Kunken
Summary: On July 4, 2009, a deadly menace swept through the quaint seaside town of Claridge, Maryland. The authorities believed they had buried the truth about the tragedy. Now, three years later, a reporter who survived the horrors of that terrible day has emerged with footage revealing the cover-up and what actually happened.
The Good: Generally, I’m not the biggest fan of “found footage” movies. Usually, I find the style unnecessary because the majority of films that seem to use it have stories that could easily be told with a more traditional narrative and the found footage style adds nothing to the story.
Thankfully, The Bay manages to dodge both of those complaints. The film is told in an amateur, documentary style where our narrator has collected footage of the event through a government leak and has put it together to tell a tale of the Claridge Tragedy in a cohesive fashion. While I could see a few ways they could have told the story in a more traditional narrative, I believe the spliced-together, documentary style they chose to use fits the story better.
The acting in the film is pretty decent as well. While there are a small handful of background actors and actresses that give somewhat weak performances, the main actors give believable performances with Kristen Connolly as the young mother Stephanie and Stephen Kunken as Dr. Abram being the best of the group.
Director Barry Levinson and writer Michael Wallach also demonstrate the proper way to make a horror film. Instead of just throwing stuff at the camera and making the occasional loud noise, they choose to build the tension slowly and bring out the scares at just the right time. Also, the film focuses more on the terror of the situation, which I think was a good choice based on the story and the way they are telling it.
Finally, the majority of the special effects in the movie were very well done for the film’s budget. Most of the effects seemed to be practically done, and that’s always a good thing in my book. The CGI effects were a little sketchy, but they never lingered on them for long, using the found footage style to their advantage and hiding the short-coming.
The Bad: Like most found footage films, The Bay's cinematography is somewhat questionable. While it is nowhere near the worst cinematography I've seen for one of these kinds of films and the footage is supposed to be somewhat amateurishly done, it still got on my nerves at times.
Also, there are times when the film is showing different camera angles that are rather weird when you realize no one would have been able to get these shots because of the situation going on at the moment. Also, there are times in the movie that caused me to wonder why a character was still carrying the camera when someone else would have put it down. While this is a common thing in found footage films, it is still annoying.
Conclusions: While there are some cinematography problems with the film, The Bay is still one of the better found footage films I’ve seen in awhile. If you like the found footage sub-genre, like horror films that build up tension and dread, and deal with government cover-ups and ecological terror, you will enjoy The Bay.