The Bay (2012)

As handycam horror movies go, The Bay is a pretty good one.  It’s just unfortunate that it’s a totally oversaturated genre; if every movie used the concept this cleverly, maybe ‘found footage’ wouldn’t be a byword for ‘bad horror’.

The Bay isn’t comprised of the contents of a teenager’s camcorder, found abandoned and scraped-up somewhere strange.  It’s a compilation of several different recordings of varying kinds – FaceTime calls, news footage, a local doctor’s communications with the CDC, police cams, a scientific investigation…  All of these things, the movie informs us, have been suppressed by the govnerment to cover up the scandal of what happened to this small town, and will soon be released as the documentary you’re watching – on ‘Govleaks’.

In the current age of Facebook data tracking and Big Brother and internet censorship, it rings true.  Teamed with an all-too-true storyline of profit vs. environment, The Bay is a movie very firmly rooted in today.  Because of that, it will probably not age well; the cast, the script and the special effects are nothing to write home about, and so probably won’t save it.  Not every movie needs to stand the test of time, though.  Sometimes you don’t need to be blown away – just to be entertained.  The Bay will certainly give you that.

Be warned, though, it is pretty gross, and not just for one shot.  If you’re squeamish and scrolling through Netflix looking for something to watch while your food gets cold – keep scrolling.

That’s probaby this movie’s greatest strength, actually; it’s very, very good at making your skin crawl, and not just at the disgusting bits.  It’d probably be better described as a chiller than a horror movie.  It’s got that haunting quality of something you can half-believe.  It doesn’t rely on jump-scares so much as it does the aura of the uncanny as you’re led around a town that should be celebrating the 4th of July, and is instead vainly screaming for help in an overcrowded hospital waiting room, or vomiting up a storm in the bright summer sun.

It’s also pretty cool in that it has a backwards-puzzle feel to it.  You know how the movie will end.  You just don’t know exactly why or how.

In short, it’s a shame this movie’s gone somewhat under the radar.  Speaking as someone who’s largely bored by horror movies – despite being about to review several in a row… – I think this one stands head and shoulders above much of the stuff you’ll find in its genre.  Despite using the same technique as a disproportionately high percentage of horror movies these days, it’s just different, so don’t write it off for that alone.  Write it off after you’ve had to give up on your dinner and spent a few hours feeling itchy…

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