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With: Kristen Connolly, Kether Donohue, Christopher Denham, Stephen Kunken, Frank Deal, Andy Stahl, Lauren Cohn
Written by: Michael Wallach
Directed by: Barry Levinson
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent content, bloody images and language
Running Time: 84
Date: 09/13/2012

The Bay (2012)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Welcome to Parasites

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Oren Peli, the crafty creator and producer of the Paranormal Activity movies brings us The Bay, with -- surprisingly -- Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson at the helm. Fortunately, Levinson appears very passionate about the movie's frightening environmental message, and it recalls the vicious satire of his Wag the Dog (1997). But at the same time, the message is presented within the context of thrills and scares, making it much less preachy than it could have been.

In 2009, in Chesapeake Bay, the Fourth of July celebrations are under way as usual. Journalism student Donna Thompson (Kether Donohue) prepares to document the festivities on camera, but something terrible happens. People start getting sick and developing disturbing blisters and boils all over their skin. Soon people begin dying. In the present day, Donna assembles her own footage as well as footage from many other sources to piece together what happened: a series of man-made conditions combined to create mutated, super-parasites called isopods. But can these creatures be stopped before it's too late?

Unlike many other fake documentary horror films of late, the Donna character actually gives The Bay actually has a reason to exist; this is not just footage that was "mysteriously" found, or shot without any good reason. The combination of different kinds of footage fits together well, and several recognizable characters emerge, even if none of them (aside from Donna) is particularly three-dimensional. Overall, though, Levinson does a commendable job of conjuring up squirm-inducing moments and horrifying tension.
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