I know I have been away a lot lately. I have had a lot of personal things come up in the last couple of weeks that took priority over the blog site. I failed on the 31 In 31, I know and I have been lacking in film reviews. For all that, I apologize. Hopefully soon things for me will return to some semblance of normalcy, and I will do my best to keep the reviews coming.
Enough about me, though. I am here with a new review!
Today brings the film, Chicken Shit... wait, I mean it's called The Bay. Barry Levinson, a director who is very, VERY hit and miss with me decides his career has reached its lowest and thrown his hat into the cliched "found footage" genre.
Taking place in the fictional town or Claridge, Maryland on July 4, 2009, mutated isopods from a large chicken processing plant (hence the Chicken Shit mentioning) begin infecting fish and the local residents. As the day progresses: locals, doctors and the CDC attempt to find out the cause of these mutated isopods and a way to stop the outbreak.
The film is told from the present day, 2012, by news reporter Donna Thompson (Kether Donohue) who was in Claridge on that fateful day to document the 4th of July festivities. She continuously pops up and speaks with an unseen person asking her questions. She states that all the footage from that day was suppressed, but is now available and shown to the audience.
What follows are various forms of video documentation from TV cameras, surveillance, police dash cams and more. We see various stories regarding locals who are becoming infected and making their way to the hospital. A doctor at the hospital, when not working on the infected, speaks on SKYPE chat with the CDC in an attempt to find out what is causing this infection. During the day, we also follow Donna and her cameraman around as they go from documenting the joyful festival to the many corpses that fill the town by day's end.
Barry Levinson does an adequate job of showing multiple points of view and keeping the storytelling very streamlined. The plot is very straightforward regarding the initial findings of what is causing the infection to the very final moments. As this is supposedly shot as a "found footage" film, the occasional usage of a musical score to showcase the type of emotion for the scene does not seem to fit. Especially if the film is structured as a composition of what occurred that day by Donna.
Beyond the musical score, which I feel there should have been none, another quibble I have is regarding character motivations. This is typical when it comes to this type of film, but why not drop the camera and help? Besides that, there is a subplot involving a family on a boat that is on their way to Claridge. Once they arrive on the island and assess the scene, why would they continue onward instead of staying on the boat? I know we are in the third act and the story can't just be spent hiding in a boat, but it just doesn't ring true.
Along with the family on the boat, one character appears to be infected by getting blood on them and then using water to try and rinse the blood off. It feels like we are going to be waiting for something to happen with that, but this character never gets infected and their story continues onward without any further mention.
Which then leads me to the end. As someone near and dear to me likes to mention, this film feels like it suffers from a Deus ex machina. We do not see a resolution to the infection, but we are told what happens. The way it is delivered feels like they had no way to end the film and just decided to come up with the one in the final film.
This is a mixed bag of a film, but on the whole, I did enjoy it more than not. Besides a third act that seems to wrap up everything too quick in a neat little package, this is a solid "found footage" film that utilizes a more grounded suspense style to it instead of cheap shocks and over the top gore.
And for Barry Levinson, this is better than Sphere. So, you know, there's that.