One of the problems with the surge of found footage films these days is that they so rarely take a new or interesting approach. While so few titles in the found footage genre have dared to try something new, even fewer have succeeded. ‘The Bay’ dares to take a new and shockingly realistic approach to the found footage genre, and i found it to be quite a treat. One of the initial reasons this film peaked my interest was the fact it is directed by acclaimed filmmaker Barry Levinson (director of Rain man, Bugs, Toys, Sleepers, etc.) while also being produced by the Blumhouse team. Anyone familiar with the found footage genre, and the generally similar Blumhouse Productions releases knows this is something veering from the norm in a major way.
The film contains a cast composed primarily of unknowns aside from a few exceptions such as Kristen Connoly (Cabin In The Woods). I have always felt the unknown cast members in the found footage genre really helps to support the belief of the films proposed realistic nature.
There are many reasons this film works, namely the realistic scenario combined with the multiple sources of footage edited together significantly well. The film is narrated by a survivor of the fourth of July event that plagued the town, and we are subjected to multiple video’s from varying sources. The idea is that all of the footage recorded during the ‘event’ was confiscated years ago but was recovered by a website similar to wiki-leaks. The film compiles the footage from varying townspeople whom all happened to be recording footage for altogether different reasons, yet happened to coincide during the events occurrence. All of the footage is played through and narrated by our female host who is basically putting together a documentary with the intention of revealing the truth regarding this event to the world. The little gimmicks in between footage really helps the believability factor. For instance one segment has text prior to the footage noting ‘Some of this footage has suffered water damage’ and other notes of the sort prior to various footage. The reason the found footage element is so strong in it’s realistic approach here is the fact that you could easily see an event such as this occurring in real life. I won’t say more than that as the film is much more effective with the less you know about it going in.
I would highly recommend this film. It is amazingly well done, and brings real new life to the found footage genre. It is one of the most realistic found footage films i have ever had the pleasure to view, contributing mainly from the realistic approach at which the film is cut and narrated, as well as being terrifying simply because of the realistic nature of the events occurring. Many will take issue with the slowness of the film, but i hope many will also appreciate it for what it is and realise the slow buildup significantly affects the films overall effect on the viewer. This is not your average found footage film, it is something truly unique, effective, and well worth checking out.
‘The Bay’ is now playing in selected cities, and is also available on all major VOD providers including iTunes, amazon, Xbox Marketplace and more. I personally viewed the film via VOD and was quite pleased with the price of $5.99 for HD which is at least a few dollars cheaper than the normal films that are released on VOD the same day as theaters.