“The Bay” (2012) deserves credit for its effort to give viewers a detailed and well developed, found-footage science fiction-horror movie. In depicting a brutal parasitic infection eradicating a small coastal town, writers Barry Levinson and Michael Wallach appear familiar with the basics of epidemiology and public health. And they make nice use of a time-honored sci-fi standby — pollutants causing small organisms to mutate into large ones.
Levinson and Wallach are ambitious too. “The Bay” follows a number of intertwining narratives winding through the entire town, making use of more than a dozen actors and innumerable extras. Some of those actors are quite good — especially those portraying emergency professionals, like the local emergency room doctor, the staff for the Centers for Disease Control and the bureaucrat from the Department of Homeland Security. I think a story with this scope, and with this many characters, would have made a fine ecological techno-thriller novel. The filmmakers really do serve up a thoughtful, serious cautionary tale that is sometimes frightening.
Despite its strengths, however, “The Bay” is still encumbered by some noticeable flaws. There’s little structure to it, the pacing feels off, and we follow so many characters that it is hard for the viewer to get to know any one of them. There is a news reporter whose point of view serves as a framing device, but she’s performed with little energy by the main actress, and her character isn’t scripted to be terribly likable to begin with. Parts of the film feel redundant, too. Levinson (who is also the director here) keeps replaying footage and key dialogue, and it’s a poor choice.
All things considered, I’d rate “The Bay” a 7 out of 10.