The thought of a Barry Levinson horror movie, when I first heard about it, both amused and horrified me by turns. Today, I get a chance to review it thanks to our friends at Lionsgate, who sent out a copy of “The Bay” for us to review. It won’t be out until March 5, but put this one on your list, because it’s one of the abjectly scariest movies I’ve seen in a good while.
“The Bay” takes us out to Claridge, Maryland, where something very puzzling happened one July fourth. Two million fish washed up on shore, dead, and one thousand blackbirds fell out of the sky, mid-flight. Just what happened in Claridge, that warm July day? That’s exactly what “The Bay” will show, focusing on just 24 hours in Claridge, and on the cell phones, webcams, 911 calls and other assorted recording mechanisms of its citizens as the incident at Claridge unfolds. But the more that unfolds, the more horrifying it looks. It’s clear that a parasitic outbreak has started, but where did it come from? How did it start? Or who started it?
So, yes, we are looking at a found-footage eco-horror title, complete with commentary on the nature of social media, and all from Barry Levinson. That sounds like a combination that’s going to make something very, very big happen, kind of like Diet Coke and Mentos. The question of course will be whether or not the big thing in question will be a good big thing or a terrible big thing on par with the worst we can imagine.
This particular horror movie is going to be an interesting one. Not only will there be plenty of laughs going on in the opening, but the laughter will never go on for long before things get downright disturbing. See, “The Bay” has one of the greatest and most potent instruments of any horror story on its side: sheer plausibility. Something is going on, and that which is going on–especially in the early going–could be happening, anywhere, now. Or at least something like it. Thankfully, most of the rest of the movie will live up to its early promise–some occasional missteps will come along, mostly in terms of a distinct lack of focus–but for sheer raw scary, this will do the job and then some.
“The Bay” is going to put on a surprisingly sinister state of affairs, with a constantly ominous state building throughout much of the first half hour. This movie, in point of fact, puts up a very big promise with its first half hour. Something very serious is going on here. About the best way I can describe this is something like one part “Cabin Fever” and one part “Piranha”–more the original than the remake–and that’s a combination that’s almost as disturbing as Barry Levinson and horror.
Special features, meanwhile, will be rather plentiful by any reckoning, including a commentary track from the director, a making-of featurette, a set of audio options and your choice of English or Spanish subtitles. There are also trailers for “Cabin in the Woods,” “The Possession,” “The Haunting of Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia,” and brief promos for Fearnet and Epix.
“The Bay” is a disturbing, distressing, and profoundly scary piece of work, a magnificently plausible film that might well leave some wondering just what’s going on with their own water supplies. It’s not exactly a big leap from this to reality–sure, it’s not likely to be this pronounced–but the idea that somewhere some ecological disaster is poised to launch unimaginable horror isn’t exactly out of line. Pretty scary by itself, terrifying by its implications, “The Bay” will make most anyone living by the water just a little extra jumpy.