Horror movies which incorporate the found-footage style are a dime a dozen and just about played out. But we have faith that Barry Levinson and his gaggle of isopods in his new Contagion-Paranormal Activity-Inconvenient Truth mashup, The Bay, will actually buck the odds and be something we like.
First off, here's the trailer:
And here's why we're amped:
It's Barry Levinson.
Rain Man, Good Morning, Vietnam, Wag the Dog, Diner— Levinson's Oscar-winning résumé speaks for itself. It's easy to trust Levinson, because like, is the guy who made Rain Man really going to do you wrong? O.K., O.K., there was that weird Bee Movie monstrosity, but we're pretty sure he's shaken that. Honestly though, we're looking forward to seeing how an Oscar-winning director handles the found-footage genre. It's not unlike making a superstar chef like Jean-Georges Vongerichten work with Spam—we're not sure of the result, but we're pretty sure it'll be unlike anything we've tasted. And on that found-footage note ...
A Lot of this Film Was Shot on iPhones, Androids, and Webcams.
Levinson, who made an appearance at New York Comic Con, told a captivated audience (and me) that some of the scenes, for better or worse, were filmed with an iPhone by an actor or an actress in room by themselves. For someone whose biggest gripe is that movies and television never depict text messages, phone calls, e-mails the way they look in real life, this is a nice surprise. But let's see how well those actors and Levinson pulled it off in real life.
These little critters are the main baddies of the movie. Isopods are actually real, shiver-inducing parasitic crustaceans with tiny legs—the way they move might make you want to vomit. So yes, like Steven Soderbergh's Contagion there's an element of reality to The Bay that's scary and can't just be left in theaters. Oh gosh, we can't even look at it.
We're Grownups (or We Like to Think We Are)
As Levinson has said, The Bay isn't just a cheap slapdash slasher. He chose to do the movie because of his connection to the death pool that is the Chesapeake Bay. "Approximately 40% of the Bay consists of 'marine dead zones'. Hundreds of thousands of fish are showing up dead on beaches, and no one knows exactly why," he said. Sure, from the trailer down to that disgusting isopod, The Bay is primed to be a creepy-crawler horror story: dead fish washing up, parasites who eat you from the inside out, puss-laden rashes, deaths (lots of deaths), and a government cover-up. But the story is working on two different levels, and at its core, the movie is a narrative about our real-life relationship to the environment.
Of course, we could leave the theaters disappointed. But that will still be infinitely less embarrassing than saying you paid money to see Paranormal Activity 4. The Bay will be hitting theaters November 2.