The found footage train keeps on rolling as the guys behind Paranormal Activity and Insidious have another stab at mockumentary horror – this time following the panic as a small seaside town’s residents become overwhelmed by a plague of parasitic crustaceans. While anybody would be let off for groaning at the prospect of more shaky-cam terror, The Bay (like Paranormal Activity and Insidious) isn’t half bad. At a mere 84 minutes, it’s not overstretched and doesn’t have time to get dull.
The 4th July celebrations at the small town of Claridge, Maryland get well and truly scuppered when a few residents break out in a strange rash. The symptoms worsen ever so slightly when mutated tongue-eating isopods start gnashing their way through the townsfolks’ stomachs and, before you know it, the place is in a state of panic as everyone who’s quaffed the local larvae-infested water falls victim to some bad-ass woodlice.
The premise is simple and it’s delivered effectively as director Barry Levinson (yes, that Barry Levinson) shows he can handle horror ably by letting the situation dish out the chills and squirms rather than featuring cheap jumps and scares. As such, the film is more interesting than scary as it’s more an account of how a small town would deal with such an outbreak. Think of it as Contagion meets Gremlins (minus the humour) and you’re somewhere along the right lines. Unfortunately, that’s just the problem.
Like Contagion, it’s more interesting than entertaining and doesn’t demand rewatching. As decent a job as Levinson does, there’s no directorial flair here. In fact, it could have been done just as well by any studio hack really. The performances are solid and the effects will have you wriggling in your chair but with a relatively flippant ending, you probably won’t be bowled over. Still, I defy anyone to watch this and not chase it with a half hour of searching YouTube for videos of isopods.
The disc is a little light on extras. You get a featurette entitled ‘Inside The Bay’ which sees Levinson and the gang gabbing about the film’s eco-logical message about the pollution in Chesapeake Bay and the ins and outs of shooting a mockumentary flick. It’s hardly gripping stuff. You also get a trailer which is actually pretty cool…even if it does look like a The Bay is a zombie film.
Still, in all, it’s an interesting and often gross horror that’s bound to leave you squirming. Not bad.
Overall verdict: Barry Levinson treads into uncharted water and delivers a decently unsettling mock-doc horror. Not brilliant but well worth a peek.
‘Inside The Bay’ featurette
Reviewer: Jordan Brown