What would happen if one of the two things essential for human survival did just the opposite? This question is one of many posed in The Bay, a refreshing take on the somewhat
dead tired ‘found footage’ horror sub-genre.
A small town in Maryland, US, becomes the epicentre of a mysterious bio-outbreak originating from a bay, which happens to be not only the town’s dumping ground, but also its main source of water.
First-and-foremost the thing that impressed me most about The Bay was the innovative ways the screenwriter and director delivered us the supposedly found footage. We don’t get one guy/girl running around with a digital camera the whole time, which gets extremely tiresome. Instead we see shots from a variety of CCTV cameras on streets and in buildings, webcams, dashcams, phones, cameras, websites, news reports and conference calls. All this was enough to be visually engaging, as well as a great tool to drive narrative and add to suspense. On no occasion was my disbelief unsuspended, which, in horror especially, is essential.
Much like Contagion, the horror comes from the fear of fear itself, and while there are a few creepy set pieces in the final two acts, and some pretty gory shots, the film never resorts to cheap jump-scares. The story is driven along by a survivor of the incident who narrates throughout. I found this a bit irritating at first, but I was soon so engaged in the film that I was on board regardless. One aspect I appreciated was the lack of misogyny or degradation of women that is often found in horror these days. There were no bare breasts for titilation or a psychopath going around with a camera murdering helpless women, and for that I commend the filmmakers.
Overall, I found The Bay a rip-roaring, clever take on the found footage genre, and while it gets a little expositiony at times, I think that comes with the territory.