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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
A cautionary tale -- albeit a bloody, scary one -- The Bay could inspire teen viewers to be more aware of environmental issues and how man's actions can change things in both subtle and drastic ways.
Positive Role Models
Donna is a college-age reporter who survived an ordeal and later pieces its story together on video. From her vantage point of hindsight, she criticizes her own prior ignorance and her on-camera performance. But on the positive side, she has learned from her mistakes and shows a great deal of bravery and selflessness in trying to tell her story to the world.
Violence & Scariness
Dozens upon dozens of dead bodies -- including kids -- with lots of blood (dripping and oozing) and amputated limbs. Also dead fish and birds. A creepy bug jumps out of a fish's mouth and later burrows out of a man's neck. People, including a young girl, have weird boils and blisters covering their skin. Characters throw up blood. They eventually describe the perpetrator: a mutated parasite that not only eats its victims from the outside in but also from the inside out. (Victims' tongues are eaten, but this isn't shown.) There's a general sense of disgust and discomfort throughout the movie. A baby is part of a particularly scary scene.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two teens flirt briefly before going swimming. A teen girl is shown in her bra/bathing suit. A married couple is shown being comfortable with each another and kissing. While watching herself on video, Donna makes a comment about how tight her pants are.
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Strong language includes several uses of "s--t" and "f--k"; they're also shown in text messages and email. Other words include "son of a bitch," "damn," "hell," and terrified uses of "Jesus" and "oh my God."
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Products & Purchases
Google and YouTube are used on various computers.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Bay -- a horror movie about a terrifying, murderous environmental disaster -- is made up of "found" footage from various video cameras (it's presented as a documentary but is fiction). There's lots of death and blood, as well as a general disgusting, disturbing tone as survivors try to figure out what the culprit is and how it works. Language is strong, with several uses of "f--k" and "s--t," both spoken and written (in text messages and emails). In one scene, a teen boy and girl flirt briefly before going swimming; the teen girl is shown in her bra. The Bay comes from the creator/producer of the Paranormal Activity movies, though it's unlikely to have the same kind of draw. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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. But at the same time, The Bay's message is presented within the context of thrills and scares, making it much less preachy than it could have been.
Unlike the set-ups of many other fake documentary horror films, Donna's character actually gives The Bay a reason to exist; this isn't 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, Levinson does a commendable job of conjuring up squirm-inducing moments and horrifying tension.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.