A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
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What's the story?
In 2009, in Chesapeake Bay, 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?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Bay's violence. What's the impact of seeing dead bodies in large numbers vs. people getting killed off one by one in (as in a slasher movie)? How does a movie's plausibility affect the impact of its violence?
Does this movie's premise seem believable? Does the fake documentary format help? Why do you think filmmakers are drawn to that format?
What does The Bay have to say about the environment? Should we, as citizens, be more aware of what's going on around us? How?
- In theaters: November 2, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: March 5, 2013
- Cast: Christopher Denham, Kether Donohue, Kristen Connolly
- Director: Barry Levinson
- Studios: Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 84 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: disturbing violent content, bloody images and language