In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_men_women_and_children

Men, Women & Children

A potentially interesting premise is handled so badly that what might have been a provocative drama quickly and irrevocably devolves into the technological equivalent of…

Thumb_boxtrolls_ver13

The Boxtrolls

"The Boxtrolls" is a beautiful example of the potential in LAIKA's stop-motion approach, and the images onscreen are tactile and layered. But, as always, it's…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives

Reviews

The Bay

The Bay Movie Review
  |  

Barry Levinson's "The Bay" is another found-footage shocker, but with a welcome difference. Instead of being cobbled together from shaky-cam footage allegedly shot by clueless teenagers whose video shows lots of their own shoes, this one is built around suppressed video allegedly filmed by a professional cameraman for public access TV.

It also incorporates cell phone video, Skype interviews and video shot on board a boat by a young couple who have chosen the wrong day to take their baby out for a cruise. The theory is that all this material has been kept secret in a cover-up of the pollution of Chesapeake Bay (which in fact is heavily polluted, but never mind).

As the film opens, a young TV journalist named Donna Thompson (Kether Donohue) recalls a terrible July 4th a few years earlier when a waterborne parasite began to attack swimmers and other local residents. Identified as isopods, the creatures have mutated into carnivores the size of big cockroaches and begin to devour their victims both from the outside in and the inside out — a nice touch, that.

The reasons for the mutation are hinted: run-off from a giant chicken farm, where the poultry feed is laced with steroids, and a possible radiation leak from a nearby nuclear reactor. It goes without saying that the local mayor (Frank Deal) denies any problem, having learned from "Jaws" that it is better for people to die than for tourism to be affected.

Local doctors and police try desperately to call for help, but find it difficult to get a response on a busy holiday. Contacts between an emergency room doctor and the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta are well done, and not reassuring.

Although there are some scary moments here, and a lot of gruesome ones, this isn't a horror film so much as a faux eco-documentary. Levinson, a major director ("Rain Man," "Wag the Dog") seems more interested in spreading a green message than terrifying viewers. Nothing wrong with that, but audiences lured in by the trailers may be disappointed. At least the film is watchable and audible, something you can't say for most found-footage films, including great stretches of the "Paranormal Activity" series, which is turning into a parasite of its own.

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

The Unloved, Part Ten: "The Village"

Part ten in Scout Tafoya's The Unloved series tackles "The Village."

Why my video essay about "All that Jazz" is not on the Criterion blu-ray

Bob Fosse's masterpiece "All That Jazz" jumps back and forth through the past and the present, and through memory and...

Tonight is What It Means To Be Young: "Streets of Fire" at 30

An appreciation of "Streets of Fire" on its 30th anniversary.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus