Fact and fiction blur in The Bay, a new horror movie that uses the real-world presence of flesh-eating bacteria in the Chesapeake Bay as a jumping-off point for an apocalyptic tale of biological catastrophe.
There's been a bit of a backlash recently against so-called "found-footage" horror movies, which creepify their storytelling through an ersatz documentary approach, but although The Bay is co-produced by Paranormal Activity impresario Oren Peli, it plays by its own rules. And, partly because it's executive-produced by Hydraulx co-founders Colin Strause and Greg Strause, who provide VFX, it has some very effective (and disgusting) moments of terror. "It's not a ghost story where you only remain frightened while you are watching," said director Barry Levinson in a director's statement that helps explain why he turned to the horror genre. "It's a story that should scare you during and after it's over. When you go home. Because it is about real things."
Purportedly cobbled together from a variety of sources including footage taken by beachgoers, TV news videographers, dash cams, and surveillance cameras, The Bay takes place during a July 4 celebration in the fictional town of Claridge, Maryland. As some of the townspeople begin to exhibit disturbing symptoms of infection, the film backtracks to explore the environmental history of Chesapeake Bay, including the effects of water polluition on the local marine species. It's a monster movie, but the monster is a strangely plausible mutation rather than a supernatural figure.
"In 2010, I was actually approached to do a documentary about the Chesapeake, which intrigued me," Levinson explained in his statement. "I thought it would be better to blend the facts into a storytelling format and make a fictional film that feels like a documentary. Do it on a micro budget, use no famous actors, and shoot it with consumer cameras, like iPhones and point-and-shoots, to create an authentic visual language of found footage. In the end, we used 21 digital platforms."
Here, courtesy of Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions, is the film's "Master Camera List."
Sony PMW-EX-3 (news reporter)
Sony PMW-EX-1 (surveillance footage)
Sony Hi-8 (night-vision)
Sony DSC-TX5 (underwater)
Panasonic AG-HVX200 (surveillance footage)
Panasonic AG-DVX100B (public-access and surveillance footage)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 (surveillance)
Canon 5D and 7D (underwater and police squad car cams)
Canon Vixia HV40 (HDV/Mini DV)
Canon PowerShot SX210 IS
Apple iPhone 4
Apple Photo Booth (webcam app)
Evo Cam (webcam app)
Skype (webcam app)
Goggle Cameras (www.gogglecameras.co.uk/)
Astroscope Night Vision assembly (www.electrophysics.com)
The Bay (official website) opens November 2 in theaters and on demand.
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