New In The USA: THE BAY
Undoubtedly icky, but curiously sterile, Barry Levinson’s found-footage creature-feature owes as much to Jaws as it does to Erin Brockovich. Yet its distancing collection of security camera, cellphone, home video and local news reporting provide the numbness you get from watching a live-unfolding story play out on cable news.
The perfect storm of societal neglect and natural spontaneity sees a cocktail of nuclear contamination, mountains of chickenshit run-off and a particularly warm summer cut short the July 4th celebrations of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland with a proliferation of a nasty brand of parasite, one that eats the victim from without and within. Just as we take clean water for granted as much as business opportunity with minimal regulation, The Bay is savage at punishing the innocent and simple townsfolk with body lesions, boils and particularly nasty looking ‘lice-of-the-sea’ that are worthy of David Cronenberg.
And yet, the commitment to found footage tropes and a painfully linear narrative kind of leaves this one feeling a bit middling – hence its place in the middle of this triple bill. Maybe it was due to the self-conscious narrator who felt like a sour doppelgänger of Ellen Page, or perhaps the changes in footage, aspect ratio and “Am I framed correctly?” tailings that someone assembling this as a Loose Change style conspiracy video most certainly would have omitted not having to prove its amateur credentials. You cannot fault the commitment to a certain style too much however, as the overall effect mimics a modern media malaise, even as small town of ‘anywhere-America’ is literally torn apart.