The Bay - on DVD and Blu-ray

Monday, 18 March 2013 17:02
Posted in Cult Movies on DVD
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The Bay - out on Blu-ray and DVDJust when you thought it was safe to go back into the cinema, another ‘found footage’ horror movie emerges, doing its best to convince you that the genre is not dead in the water. The coastal town of Claridge, Maryland is in for a torrid time during its 4th of July festivities. Abruptly interrupting celebrations such as a crab-eating contest, 30 people are spontaneously afflicted with hideous boils and vomiting, and that is only the beginning.

Their condition rapidly declines, and the number of victims multiplies by the hour. Panic and confusion grip the bewildered inhabitants. Meanwhile, the police and medical experts try to solve the mystery before it can lay waste to the entire town. The movie’s crew includes some big names such as Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson (“Rain Man”, “Bugsy”), producer Jason Blum (“Paranormal Activity”, “Insidious”) and Brian Kavanaugh-Jones (“Sinister”).

“The Bay” succeeds where many films of late have failed. It takes mixed-source footage from security cameras, news feeds, mobile phones and home movie cameras, and binds it together into a clear, chronological narrative. Using voice-over narration and Skype presentation, Rookie TV reporter Donna Thompson (Kether Donohue) reveals the end result as a documentary exposing the truth behind events.

Kether is excellent in such a pivotal role. Reporters tend to be vapid, selfish and pugnacious in these sorts of films, but Donna exhibits none of these flaws. She is vulnerable, caring and considerate. The other characters are also depicted and played with veracity; we learn a bit about each of them which typically makes the foreboding news of their fates more shocking.

As the story progresses, clips are introduced featuring a pair of oceanographers who uncovered part of the mystery a month or two before the disaster strikes Claridge. This helps to advance the plot and enhance the ominous tone, giving the audience an insight into the truth before the townsfolk realise what has hit them.

The movie also scores points for a believable plot that encompasses a range of topical issues such as global warming, government cover-up, industrial negligence and intensive farming, and keeps the viewer guessing as to which of these might be responsible.

The soundtrack plays a crucial role in pinning the disparate content together, helping to build immersive atmosphere and a palpable sense of dread whilst not overdoing it.

The DVD version reviewed is probably the better format to see the film in. Much of the footage is by its very nature standard-definition or worse; this helps to keep the audio-visual contrast obvious but not jarringly so, whereas I imagine the Blu-ray edition occasionally bursts into sharp HD scenes that could be a qualitative step too far.

In summary this is definitely a film that fans of “The Host” (the Korean monster movie, not the new Stephanie Meyer film), “Jaws” and “Outbreak” will enjoy. It is scary, features some great shock and gore moments and delivers a warning shot across the bows of those who do not savour their environment.

Sadly the special features included on both formats are not up to the standard of the main feature. All you get is an eight-minute making-of and a trailer. Admittedly Levinson does have a few interesting things to say about his approach to making the film, embracing the modern predilection for filming everything all the time. He directed the film but gave the cast a relatively free hand in shooting the bits where they held the camera or iPhone taking the footage.

“The Bay” (2012) is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment. The main feature has a running time of 84 minutes approx., carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £15.99 on DVD and Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

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