[DVD Review] Found Footage ‘The Bay’ Lacks Thrills

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The Bay is completely unconventional in the way it tells its tale of an ecological disaster. Through iPhone footage, webcams, surveillance video – you name it – the movie tells the story of Claridge, Maryland and the tainted water that brings on a plague of sorts. Ultimately, it’s just not very scary.

The Bay tries. Directed by Academy Award winner Barry Levinson, who won for Rain Man back in 1988, the film has been compared to the likes of Cloverfield in its style. I personally didn’t like Cloverfield, but it was far more thrilling than The Bay. What holds together this conundrum of footage is the parasitic culprit that is causing boils and death amongst the residents of a Claridge. It’s vile. The effects are there, gross and disturbing – but they aren’t scary. Unsettling, maybe, but not terrifying.

What troubles The Bay from being a superior film is there are just too many styles of footage sewn together like a bad Frankenstein’s monster. Too many jumps from surveillance to phone footage to video cameras that are awkwardly and weakly held together by the supposed narrator, a journalist played by Kether Donohue. Donohue, from the start, seems either like a convincing reluctant storyteller or a badly written one. Her pauses and mannerisms in the way she tells the supposed government cover-up about Claridge is just not the sturdiest glue for the story.

The story itself, be it weakly pieced by the abundance of angles it is told, seems a wee bit under thought. If such an incident were to occur, one would hope the CDC wouldn’t sit around questioning the doctors involved and actually take action. And even still, if the script were any way more solid, the storytelling method would still be a distraction.

The DVD is nothing very exciting. With the multitude of mediums used, the picture quality is all over the place. That being said, the 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio remains consistent throughout. The special features, too, are nothing exciting. There is an audio commentary with Barry Levinson where he only speaks every so often with a few comments – very much unlike most DVDs- plus a featurette Into the Unknown: Barry Levinson on The Bay. The same exact comments, more or less, are stated again in the featurette – the fact that making a film out of different types of footage is a challenge, etc, etc – more or less facts that one could gather on their own watching the movie.

In the end, the DVD is not really worth the purchase unless you’re a diehard fan of the film. The Bay is a nice experiment in the found footage genre, however with a lack of thrills, it is not a memorable one.