'The Bay' swamped by bad choices

Levinson can't save film with poor plot, off-the-mark casting
2012-12-13T00:00:00Z 'The Bay' swamped by bad choicesMark Olsen Los Angeles Times Arizona Daily Star
December 13, 2012 12:00 am  • 

It was only a matter of time before the found footage craze drew a bona-fide name-brand Hollywood filmmaker into its ongoing vortex.

"The Bay" is directed by the Oscar-winning Barry Levinson, known for his longstanding connection to the city of Baltimore through such films as "Diner."

This time Levinson checks in on the small seaside town of Claridge, Md., on the Chesapeake Bay, with a story recounting an ecological horror show that (fictionally) occurred on July 4, 2009, and was subsequently covered up.

As pieced together in a WikiLeaks-style information dump, the local water, described as a "toxic soup" of radioactivity and growth hormones from chicken excrement, has become suddenly infested with rapidly growing isopods that take host inside people and work their way out.

The story becomes more ridiculous as it escalates, the film's overdetermined ecological focus undermining any real horror movie tension. Levinson's casting choices are off-the-mark as well - star Kether Donohue is just plain bad.

It is intriguing to see a filmmaker of Levinson's caliber grapple with the challenges a smaller budget present, and he manages to answer some of the questions that often vex found-footage movies - who assembled the footage and how did it come to exist in the first place?

Still, "The Bay" is make-work slumming, a scared-straight eco-horror PSA where the message comes first.

Review

The Bay

*

• Rated: R for disturbing, violent content, bloody images and language.

• Director: Barry Levinson.

• Cast: Kether Donohue.

• Running time: 85 minutes.

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