Spoilers, yo. In high school English, I learned about the three types of conflict. Man v. Man. Man v. Self. And Man v. Nature. Horror movies take a decidedly “green” turn when they pit man against the environment, usually in the form of many paying for the sins of pollution. These have been around since nuclear blasts woke Godzilla from his slumber in the Pacific, since genetically altered piranha took to the Lost River water park.
The Bay is directed by Academy Award winner Barry Levinson. It’s a found footage film about how dumping agricultural waste into Chesapeake Bay has unforeseen consequences which come to a head on the 4th of July. Dread Central gave it 4/5 bloody knives, and Rotten Tomatoes has it at 77% on the tomatometer. Sadly, only 44% of audiences liked it. I was a part of that other 56%. We’re all burned out on found footage movies. This one is marginally clever—after the outbreak the cdc/military/whoever confiscated all the cameras, phones, and footage. There was a government leak, and a reporter who was there has cobbled them all together into this documentary. Here’s the thing. They always have some clever excuse to hang on to the cameras. I used to say I didn’t mind found footage, that I even liked it, but this month’s 3 found footage films didn’t crank my motor. I’m tired of it.
This movie featured the sleazy mayor, the plucky girl reporter, the doctor bravely standing in the face of infection, the oceanologists, the pair of deputies, and the wealthy couple with a newborn. The infection starts with boils and gets much worse. Too often the characters tell us what’s scary and why, not giving us a chance to feel it with them. Found footage films are locked into a certain formula, and by now we know what that formula is. I wonder if I would feel different about this one if I hadn’t watched Rec 2 last night. Filmmakers took the environmentalist message and really beat viewers over the head with it. There was a lot of repetition of sound bites and images.