This is a record of events which happened in the Maryland area of Chesapeake Bay, which have subsequently been covered up by the authorities, although the creators of this film are hoping it will broadcast the nature of the tragedy to a wider audience and expose the scandal for the succession of criminal acts it was. They have gotten hold of Donna Thompson (Kether Donohue), a local television reporter at the time who covered the outbreak, and have recorded her account of what happened over the internet. It all began on the 4th of July, when the townsfolk were celebrating...
The found footage genre already had a bad name by the time The Bay was released, which meant it was lumped in with such unimpressive works as all those Paranormal Activity sequels, especially since the producer of those, Oren Peli, served as in the same capacity on this. But maybe it was the presence of seasoned veteran Barry Levinson behind the camera, for there were a few voices of approval at what could have been a fancy update of all those nineteen-seventies eco-horrors. Well, that was indeed what it was, but more akin to what Levinson's contemporary Brian De Palma had tried out with his Iraq War drama Redacted.
On comparison, The Bay was the better movie, probably because for all the serious messages it wanted to impart there remained an enthusiasm for keeping the horror to the fore, not in your face over the period of the whole running time, but popping up at regular intervals to remind you this was a fright flick you were watching and not some dry ecological lecture. Besides, its scientific aspects may have sounded convincing at first, but as they progressed it wasn't that far away from a fifties sci-fi shocker about alien invaders, only with more of an effects budget for gory setpieces. The concept of Mother Nature turning on humankind was nothing new, yet the approach gave it a shot in the arm.
This wasn't settling for following Donna around a gradually deteriorating town as it collapsed into chaos, all captured on her cameraman's equipment for future perusal, although there were scenes which depicted exactly that, as Levinson mixed in a selection of clips to remind us as the best of this genre often did that everything seemed to be recorded on camera these days, whether it was deserving of such treatment or not. So we had bits and pieces from cameraphones, webcams, security videos, home movies, you name it, if you could record images on it then here would be the evidence the fictional filmmakers wanted to put across their awful warning to the audience.
Naturally, this being the paranoid twenty-first century, that message included a hefty dose of how the authorities were not only lying to the citizens, but also they were incompetent which needed as much covering up as the scandalous lack of health and safety regulations being followed. There are a few reasons there's an epidemic in Chesapeake Bay, they don't settle on just one, but we can be sure the pollution of the region is the main trigger for the mass deaths. Just as atomic power set off giant beasts some sixty years earlier - er, in the movies, that is - here is is blamed for mixing with the pollutants in the water so if you drink it or bathe in it or jump straight in for a swim, your days may well be numbered. Your hours, in fact, as we discover when the local hospital cannot cope with the flood of patients whose rashes are turning to boils, and manifesting more threatening symptoms. If there was a feeling of old wine in new bottles about The Bay, it was still one of the better exponents of its style. Music by Marcelo Zarvos.