Saturday, October 05, 2013

The Bay

(2012) ****

Something biological is responsible for thousands of dead fish . . . and dead people. In Barry Levinson's film, aspiring reporter Donna from Maryland uploads footage, text messages, and FaceTime conversations on a fictitious website called GovLeaks (think WikiLeaks knockoff and you get the picture). The culprit threatening humanity is fascinating all on its own, but take note that equally so is the way Levinson handled this film. It is easy to label it as a found-footage, and it would be easy for a director or writer to follow a comfortable formula, but I was impressed at the impeccable timing in the display of a text message, or a Skype call from a doctor to the CDC while the stakes are raised for surviving characters and the threat begins to reveal itself.
This movie is incredibly gross!!! I had just slow-cooked a delightful pot roast with fresh meat and veggies from our local farmer's market when people in The Bay started checking in the hospital with half-disintegrated legs and projectile vomiting. I looked down at my beet, tomato, and beef-laden bowl and suddenly had no appetite.

Thou shalt therefore be known as "Blood-and-guts Borscht!"

I think I had a few crackers and lots of guilt for the rest of the night.
Credit goes to JPX for reviewing this last year, and I noted that his 2-star justification is the exact reason behind my 4-star one. There is an important element to the movie of questioning the extent of the ethical responsibility of the government to keeping its citizens safe, and I'd love to begin such a conversation, but this isn't "Politico-thon" and I have a good 3 hours worth of grading papers staring at me with big Disney eyes saying, "Pwease, Miss Cwystal, wat's my gwade in your cwass?" Anyway, the relevance to today's environmental concerns was executed almost perfectly in my opinion (except for those irritating East Coast accents, am I right?). There are entire communities where water is scarce because of the contamination of all the local slaughterhou -- oh, sorry, this isn't "Politico-thon." My bad. JPX states that the movie got preachy but I didn't see it: at no point does Donna the reporter tell us what we should be doing with our lives and where we should or shouldn't be getting our food from. She just states the facts and presents the evidence like a good reporter.

If you can stand the shaky camera, environmentalist backdrop, and mangled body parts, by all means, please give The Bay a view (and review!) There are times when I like watching movies I can relate to, or movies that have already extrapolated on something I've pondered, and I was in just this mood while watching Levinson's film. This was, after all, a follow-up to a movie about *rolls eyes* killer pro-wrestlers.


Catfreeek said...

We almost watched this one tonight but opted for a British creature flick instead. Those pictures are pretty nasty.

JPX said...

Excellent review although I stand by my 2-star rating (from a horror perspective). This is basically an environmental documentary not a horror movie. I'm completely onboard with saving the environment but I don't want to be taught anything when I watch horror (except - don't ever go in the basement, don't ever separate from your group, don't read strange incantations from a flesh-covered book, always leave a house when it says "Get out!", run when someone says that they see dead people, don't ever knock on a door in Texas, don't solve strange puzzle boxes, don't stay in a house when a killer keeps coming back to life, leave any dance school where girls keep dying horrible deaths, don't look for missing girls on strange islands, don't live an immoral life or you'll end up in a terrible trap, don't jump off a boat unless you have a ladder to get back on said boat, don't watch videotapes with a lore, don't ever stay in a hostel, don't highjack a ski-lift after hours, don't go into underground tunnels, don't watch virgins being sacrificed, leave any house that has a blue boy in it, don't hole up in a mall during a zombie apocalypse, stay clear of talking dolls, if you have a death premonition accept your fate, stay away from tribes that practice cannibalism, run if you ever see Vincent Price...)

50PageMcGee said...

wait, so you're choosy about good advice? that's the kind of arbitrary, folded-arm pouting one would expect from your brother. not you.

Landshark said...

I thought the message of Dawn was TO hole up in a mall during a zombie apocalypse!

Landshark said...

Also, that pot roast does look tasty...I love a good pot roast. Unfortunately, I screw mine up somehow like 40% of the time.

DCD said...

Hilarious, JPX! Don't forget steering clear of ugly Zuni warrior dolls!

AC said...

the grossness may be a little much, the rest sounds great to me.

love the advice litany/rant jpx!

by total coincidence, i made beef stew last night (a riff on mark bittman's recipe in "vegan before 6") and its substantiality (and a few sips of the local brown ale that went into the stew) sustained me through our (delayed by fire alarm in theater) 3d imax viewing of "gravity" (which I am guessing does not count as horror, it's more a sci-fi thriller).

Crystal Math said...

JPX you can't call something "basically a documentary" or an "environmental movie" unless you've got evidence. You cut & paste these classic horror scenarios without even examining the movie you're scrutinizing. Poughkeepsie Tapes was most certainly horror and that was shot as a documentary.

I wasn't taught anything in The Bay except not to eat chicken-shit milkshakes, which was already common knowledge.

Octopunk said...

Ha! Great review! Your borscht story was sad and wonderful.

Not that anyone asked me, but I've been puzzling over the difference between your and JPX's opinion here and I think the most important thing I want to say is that I'm bummed you felt pre-censored about getting deeper into this film's underlying messages.

It's true that the content of this blog is for the most part deliberately light, but if we have a higher purpose or promise to our contributors it's that everyone should feel as comfortable as possible about their opinion and feelings about a movie, especially a horror movie, especially during Horrorthon. This blog is a goofy hobby for me, but it's also an important cultural archive, and I value the strength of your voice. I have to review Martyrs some day, and although some of my feelings about it are the opposite of yours, I'm still pondering how to reconcile that with the truths in your observations. And I don't say that about everyone! There's a lot of opinions out there that are just plain wrong, dammit, and it frustrates the hell out of me.

I know JPX knows he can be up front about exactly what he wants out of his horror, and I hope I can convince you to know that, too. What anyone might want out of a horror movie isn't the same as what the blog content should be, as long as everyone feels welcome.

And yes, I'm a fussy den mother nobody appointed but I swear I just want everyone to have a good time.

Also I'm very jealous that your looming projects have Disney eyes. Mine look like mean-faced little elves with that thing where their bodies are also, like, their heads?

JPX, I loved the list of things you wanna learn.