Timely Warning or Just Dirty Water? A Brief Review of The Bay

As a spinoff from June 2nd’s post on “The 25 Creepiest Movies Posters Ever,” I’ve ordered a couple of the films so advertised, one of which — by odd coincidence — I watched last night.  This was THE BAY, a “found footage” (or, as explained, actually gathered and assembled by a Wikileaks-type organization) presentation of what “really” happened on the Fourth of July 2009 in Claridge, Maryland, as narrated three years later by an at-the-time intern reporter who had been assigned to cover the festival.  The “Bay” in question is Chesapeake Bay and, as might be expected in a horror movie, what happened is not good.  Some have favorably compared this film to CLOVERFIELD, about a bad (read extraterrestrial monster invasion) night in New York city, pointing out this one is more realistic in terms of believability that the things depicted might have actually been filmed as shown.  Also, from a biologist-reviewer, the science is apparently good as well.

Would one believe “sea lice?”  These actually exist, and can cause harm to fish, though they’re rather small.  But there are other things too in the brackish waters of the bay, most notably a boatload of pollution.  Thus the film starts with news footage of various fish kills as well as one involving birds, before moving to the matter at hand Cymothoa_exigua_(capovolta)with our reporter, Donna Thompson, beginning an audio tape which will become the narrative of the film.

There have, it turns out, been warnings here too, but the powers that be tended to dismiss them.  There is, after all, the economy to be considered as well.  So given the setup, it doesn’t come as too great a surprise to find that, maybe, next time. . . .  Except, it turns out, what “really happened” has thus far been suppressed.  So, it is this film that is intended to be our warning.

And that’s where the power of the film lies.  We know that Donna survives, for instance (there is a mention toward the end about some people seemingly being immune), which mutes some of the tension in films like CLOVERFIELD or [REC].  But the creepiest part comes afterward, I think, when one reflects that it’s not just a film of a fairly small town falling victim to a quickly contained plague, but rather about it being completely covered up afterward, even though seven hundred some deaths were involved.  And it seemed so easy — that’s the creep factor.  That maybe, possibly, something like that could have really happened.

Which brings us to the “odd coincidence” I noted in the first sentence at the start of this post.  Quite by accident I ran across the fact that today, June 8, is World Oceans Day, intended to warn us that, vast as the oceans are, pollution has advanced to become a dangerous thing indeed.

So, an innocent evening of movie horror or, maybe, next time. . . ?

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