Saturday, November 3, 2012

¡Qué horror! 2013
Candidate # 4

(September 2012)

“My name is Donna Thompson. For three years, I and a few others have been trying to speak out about what happened in Claridge, Maryland, on July Fourth, 2009. But sometimes, words have no impact.
“But now, with the help of a website called, all of the digital information that was recorded that day has been obtained. All of the digital information that was confiscated.
“Now, I don’t know if anyone is gonna be watching this. I don’t know if anything is gonna happen to me as a result of me putting this out there, but I do know that I… can’t move on with my life until this story is told.”

I love Barry Levinson for having given me both Diner and Wag the Dog. He’s also brought us Rain Man, Good Morning, Vietnam, Bugsy, and The Natural, to name just a few more.
So when news broke that he was doing a horror film titled Isopod, I knew I needed to pay attention. And I kept track of this baby, watching its title morph into The Bay, all the while wondering whether Levinson could deliver the scares.
Now, the closest Levinson ever came to the weird sh!t in the past was probably Sphere, and that was certainly not a horror film. Or at least, not a horror film in the way The Bay most certainly is.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Levinson was asked if he was interested in doing a documentary about the “40% dead” Chesapeake Bay.
But after realizing there were already well-made documentaries on the subject, Levinson instead took the scientific facts and placed them in a fictional context. With the help of writer Michael Wallach, what came of this creative choice, is the wildly disturbing ecological horror of The Bay.

“The term now is ‘found footage’ but it never occurred to me. I wasn't thinking that way, I guess.  I thought, if something catastrophic like this happened in a small town and there was no media, what was going on?  Then you say, this is the first generation that records every intimate moment.  They've got cell phones, they text, email, Skype and this is the very first time you get an intimate look at the people, basically, at the core of where a catastrophe is going on around them.  I thought it was a cool idea--I could tell multiple stories and a lot of people won't have an overview because they don't know what's going on.  So, that was kind of scary, too.” *

Told across a broad spectrum of today’s varied means of communication--Skype, FaceTime, cell phones, email, text messages--as well as through video and audio recordings, The Bay has elements of both the found footage and viral outbreak genres, but in the end, isn’t really either.
In the end, what Levinson and company have given us is a terribly effective chiller with one of the ookiest parasites ever brought to the screen, a parasite that just happens to actually exist in real life.
Sure, Levinson’s isopod is a mutated version of the real thing, but still, they do occur in nature, so you really gotta wonder…

Hands-down the freakiest and most viscerally disturbing of the ¡Q horror! 2013 candidates thus far, The Bay is a gruesomely welcome surprise from the 70-year old Levinson, and a solid piece that should nestle comfortably with its fellow eco-horror titles.

* Barry Levinson, from an interview with

(The Bay OS courtesy of

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