Review 49: Feardotcom.com (1/5)

Feardotcom

Directed by William Malone

Starring Stephen Dorff, Natascha McElhone, Stephen Rea

Released on August 30, 2002

Running time 1h 21m

Rated R (originally NC-17)

Genre: Horror

What a mess.

What a terrible title as well. “Feardotcom”? What…what can I even say to it?

Even reading the description on the back of the DVD box was a very strange experience.

“Four bodies are found in New York City. Why, why, why? The coincidence? They all died 48 hours after logging on to a site named feardotcom.com. Tough detective Mike Reilly collaborates with Department of Health associate Terry Huston to research these mysterious deaths. The only way to find out though what really happened is to enter the site itself…”

I’m sorry, but what the hell did I just read? I haven’t had to complain about the DVD cover synopsis since The Messengers.

Let’s go through it sentence by sentence.

“Four bodies are found in New York City.” Why not “dead bodies” or “corpses”?

“Why, why, why?” Jeez. It sounds like these deaths are all minor annoyances rather than terrible tragedies.

“The coincidence?” Huh?

“They all died 48 hours after logging on to a site named feardotcom.com.” Brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department ™. Who came up with that brilliant idea? Also, why didn’t they just combine this sentence and the preceding one?

“Tough detective Mike Reilly collaborates with Department of Health associate Terry Huston to research these mysterious deaths.” Adjective for the guy, but not for the chick? I smell possible sexism.

“The only way to find out though what really happened is to enter the site itself…” Just remove “though” and you have a coherent sentence.

Why in heaven’s name did the synopsis reveal so much of the plot?

But enough nitpicking the DVD cover synopsis. Let’s get into the actual story, or should I say, “story”.

We open with a man played by Udo Kier (Hai. How’d they get you into this?) walking into an empty subway station. Do they have a Subway restaurant down there? Get it? Waka waka – oh, forget it. Kier sees a little girl playing with an inflatable rubber ball on the live subway tracks. Oh, come on – haven’t the little girl’s parents taught her to NEVER go on the subway tracks under any circumstances?  I know that the little girl is just a supernatural apparition, but still. Oh, and is it just me, or does the little girl look suspiciously like Carol Anne Freeling from Poltergeist? Stay away from the light, Carol Anne! Anyway, Kier jumps down onto the tracks to fetch the girl, but GASP! She disappears just in time for the train to start coming! And like a moron, Kier presses himself against the wall where he has room to dodge the train, but quite literally at the last second, he lunges for the platform. And of course the train hits him.

Detective Mike Reilly (Dorff, another actor who consistently almost has a career, his only notable film being Blade) is introduced an unspecified amount of time later at the scene of Kier’s death. Kier is found with a clearly digitally enhanced expression of pure fear on his face. Kier is also revealed to be named Pollidori, a guy who has written a (from the looks of it) 400 page book criticizing the existence of the Internet. Well, Feardotcom was set in 2002, so the Internet was only just beginning to become popular.

One thing you will quickly notice, Feardotcom fails to answer the question, “Where exactly is this taking place?” I know that it takes place in some city, but we don’t know where. Hell, we don’t even know the size of the city. I can’t even make a guesstimate about where we are. Chicago? New York City? Los Angeles? Detroit? Vancouver? We could be in Atlantis for all I know. I know that the overall location is a small flaw when compared to the entirety of the movie, but it’s a question I found myself asking.

Reilly then is seen in his office at a police station, where he muses over the letters sent to him by a notorious, elusive serial killer known as The Doctor. He muses over them so intensely because he’s DAAAAARK and BROOOOODING. And then some (German? French? Belgian? Welsh? Slavic? Russian? Italian?) guy is brought into the station, ranting and raving about…something. It’s unintelligible, as it’s in the…uh…European guy’s native language. The police get his wallet off of him, and figure out his name and where he lives. Reilly goes to the guy’s house.

We are then introduced to Terry Huston (McElhone), who receives a call telling her to go to the European guy’s house. She meets up with Reilly there, and they discover another corpse; a naked woman, waterlogged, in the bathtub, with the same expression  that Pollidori had when he died. Huston and Reilly regard the corpse with bored, unfeeling faces and lines as they take in a camcorder as evidence.

After a sequence in which the European guy is now dead, Huston and Reilly go back to the station and watch the camcorder footage. It turns out the European guy and now-dead chick were a couple, and were goths, I think. The footage shows them logging onto a website and being visibly disturbed by what they see.

We see a scene in which Huston’s boss gets into his car and sees the little girl. His car starts up and starts driving on its own, and it crashes, throwing Huston’s boss through the windshield.

Huston then discovers that Pollidori, the European couple, and Huston’s boss all have one tiny little thing in common: they all died exactly forty-eight hours after visiting the website. That sounds strikingly  similar to The Ring, where, after viewing a cursed videotape, the viewer will die in seven days.

HUSTON: Forty-eight hours. Forty-eight.

What was with the repeating of “forty-eight”?

We are then introduced to the villain of the movie, Alistair “The Doctor” Pratt (Rea)(What was he thinking?) as he stalks a Sarah Michelle Gellar wannabe, lures her into an abandoned building, and kidnaps her. She wakes up in a dark but somehow brightly lit room, where, in front of plenty of cameras, Pratt begins to torture her.

And then we are introduced to a new character, an analyst and coworker of Huston’s named Denise. She figures out that the one website that all four victims have in common is a site known as “feardotcom.com”. Again, why the redundancy? How bad could “fear.com” have been? And then we get our first look at the website when Denise visits it. A black blot starts at the hotbox and spreads, blanketing the screen. After a few seconds of torture sessions edited into each other, a blonde Eastern European woman (I can tell by the accent) shows up. And though we can understand what she’s saying, she is still subtitled in a tacky font.

FEAR SITE CHICK: Do you like to watch?

Watch what?

Denise is disturbed and gets up from her chair.

F.S.C.: I’m waiting for you, Denise.

Disturbed, Denise types into the hotbox: How do you know my name?

F.S.C.: Come and find out. Don’t you want to play with me?

A dialog box shows up with two buttons labeled YES and NO. Like a moron, Denise clicks YES.

F.S.C.: Do you want to hurt me?

The same dialog box shows up. Denise clicks NO.

F.S.C.: You’re lying.

And then we see some visual effects fly by Denise as the curse infects her.

Over the next two days, shown over the course of about fifteen minutes, Denise essentially breaks down. The night of the second day, she is in her apartment dealing with her worst fear: COCKROACHES. Okay. Reilly and Huston show up just in time to see her throw herself out of her somethingth-story window. Reilly goes up to her apartment to see it in shambles. He goes up to her computer and, for some reason, like a moron, visits the site.

F.S.C.: Do you like to watch? Do you want to see more?

After recognizing the F.S.C. as a chick named Jeanine who was a victim of Pratt (how convenient) Reilly clicks YES.

JEANINE: Do you want to hurt me, Mike? I know who you are, and I know what you really want.

Mike types into the hotbox: Did you kill Denise?

As if Jeanine outright ignored Reilly, she says

JEANINE: Time to play. Time for us to become one.

As if forgetting that Jeanine didn’t even answer his previous question, Reilly types: How do I play?

JEANINE: Find me. You have forty-eight hours.

Reilly types: What do I get if I win?

JEANINE: Me.

Reilly types: What happens if I lose?

JEANINE: You die. Do you want to play? What are you afraid of?

Reilly, like a moron, clicks YES.

And then we get another barrage of amateur perspective-altering camera effects.

We then see Reilly on a stretcher being wheeled into an ambulance. Huston runs up to his side, where he yells at her, telling her that the F.S.C. was Jeanine, and begging her not to visit the site. Of course, like a moron, when Huston gets home, the very first thing she does is visit the site. Jeanine dispenses with her usual opening, instead saying

JEANINE: Hello, Terry. Are you ready to play?

Huston types into the hotbox: Why are you killing Mike?

JEANINE: Guilty.

Huston types: Guilty of what?

JEANINE: Watching. Are you ready to play?

Watching what?

And, of course, like a moron, Huston clicks YES, and is assaulted by poorly rendered effects.

So yes, despite Huston and Reilly promising each other not to visit feardotcom.com, they still both visited it. Wow.

Huston, knowing that she only has a limited time before she dies, decides to visit Jeanine’s mother. The mother tells Huston that Jeanine suffered from hemophilia, which, for those who don’t know, is a blood disease that causes an inability for blood to clot. For example, a single cut could result in bleeding to death unless some sort of strong styptic were applied. It turns out that the little girl that has always been present just before death by website is just a younger version of Jeanine, and that Jeanine rarely went anywhere without her ball. That is, until she discovered boys, of course.

Huston inexplicably shows up in some strange derelict building, searching for the body of Jeanine, surrounded by apparitions of Jeanine. Huston asks the Jeanine Apparition a series of questions as she searches, but Jeanine only replies with quips from her website dialogue, often creating a series of non sequiturs. Sigh. Huston finds the body as we see Reilly check himself out of the hospital. The two meet at the city morgue. They somehow find a rolled up business card with an address on it in Jeanine’s throat, and realize that the address leads to Pratt’s hideout. They drive there. En route, they talk, and come to a conclusion that when Jeanine was tortured, she created the website with her mind, and ultimately died after forty-eight hours, hence the time of death of all website visitors. They arrive at the address, but cannot find Pratt. Then Huston finds a magazine with a picture of the abandoned steel mill on the edge of town, and somehow realizes that that is Pratt’s torture chamber. Huston and Reilly drive there.

They find Pratt torturing the Sarah Michelle Gellar wannabe and get him away from her at gunpoint. Pratt then pulls a gun out of his ass (not really, but out of somewhere) and shoots Reilly in the chest. Pratt then subdues Huston and straps her to the torture rack. Reilly somehow fell next to a keyboard, so he, thinking quickly, types feardotcom.com into the hotbox. Jeanine, seeing her killer, pulls his soul into some surreal bastardization of the torture room. She, over the course of roughly a minute, mentally tortures Pratt, and then destroys his soul. And, to be honest, the torture and death sequence of Pratt could have looked pretty damn cool, if only it wasn’t so poorly rendered. Also, I wish we actually knew Pratt as a character. His death could have been so much more satisfying. Anyway, in the real world, Pratt dies, and Reilly dies from the gunshot wound, having finally closed the case.

Feardotcom ends as Huston is seen in her apartment with her cat, lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling.

Though competently shot and undoubtedly somewhat atmospheric, Feardotcom cannot overcome its predictable and ripoff story, gaping plotholes, one-dimensional characters, shoddy CGI, conveniently placed Deus ex Machinas for the sake of plot convenience, and piss-poor writing that seriously required proofreading.

The overall film lacked the driving force behind its plot. I just didn’t have that feeling that something was happening. And many times, I had to ask myself what exactly was going on. In fact, while watching this movie, I pulled out my phone and checked Facebook several times. Yes. The film as a whole was quite boring. I know that that’s a very juvenile comment to make, that a film is boring, but sometimes, the film is just so uninteresting that it needs to be acknowledged.

Apparently, the film was just well-known enough to warrant it a second-long cameo in The Hills Run Red.

Overall, Feardotcom is a desperate Ring wannabe. You can find the entirety of the Japanese film Ringu on YouTube if you wish to watch it. You can even find the entirety of The Ring there as well (update: not anymore)

Well…do you like to watch?

Final verdict: 1 out of 5 stars.

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Review 48: The Hills Run Red (.5/5)

The Hills Run Red

Directed by Dave Parker

Starring Sophie Monk, Tad Hilgenbrink, Janet Montgomery, Alex Wyndham, Raicho Vasilev, William Sadler

Released on June 12, 2009

Running time 1h 21m

Rated R

Genre: Horror

Syngeror of IMDb could not have summed up The Hills Run Red more perfectly than in four words: “Horrible mess with tits”. This four word review effectively captures the essence of this tasteless train wreck of a movie better than the sycophantic rantings and ravings of a rabid fanboy of the genre of “attempts at ‘meta-horror’”, aka “self-aware horror”.

What are “attempts at ‘meta-horror’”, you may ask?

Well, all you need to do is take a look at films like Bride and Seed of Chucky, Urban Legend, The Human Centipede 2 and 3, My Name is Bruce, Night of the Comet, Rubber, Anguish, and There’s Nothing Out There, and you’ll have a pretty good idea. However, there are films that execute the idea of “meta-horror” surprisingly well: Funny Games and its American remake, New Nightmare, Fright Night, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, ZombielandShaun of the Dead, and, of course, Scream.

And no, I didn’t like Cabin in the Woods very much. It was more concerned with feeding us tired tropes and making us laugh than actually telling a decent story, scaring us, or giving us a satisfying body count. And, of course, there’s that nihilistic ending.

Dark Castle Entertainment has been responsible for three of the worst remakes of classic horror films: House on Haunted Hill, House of Wax, and 13 Ghosts. Oh, sorry. It’s Thir13en Ghosts. And yes, the House of Wax that decided to cast Paris Hilton. DCE has also been responsible for such failures as Ghost Ship, Gothika, The Reaping, Return to House on Haunted Hill (grammar lessons needed), Whiteout, Ninja Assassin, The Factory, and, most recently, Getaway. Far, far away. Oh, I forgot to include 2012’s abomination The Apparition. I knew reviewing that would come back to bite me in the ass. To date, the only critically lauded film released under the Dark Castle banner was 2010’s Splice.

And then we come to today’s review of Dark Castle’s The Hills Run Red.

Our story begins with the idea of a film within a film. “The Hills Run Red” was released in 1982 by director Wilson Wyler Concannon (a tribute to William Wyler, director of Ben-Hur?). It is considered to be the scariest movie of all time, as it featured graphic depictions of sadism, which caused it to be pulled from theaters. All reels of the film vanished or were destroyed. No cast member, or the director, was ever found. All that remains are a few stills and a cheap-looking, 80s-style trailer.

Wait a sec. Graphic depictions of sadism? They did that in Hellraiser! They did that in the original TCSM! You could say that they did that in Blue Velvet and the original Night of the Living Dead! They clearly did that in practically every film on anyone’s list of Most Disturbing Movies! But I can still find every one of these movies on the Internet. Good job, America. Good job.

I know we have our First Amendment right of free speech. And because of that right, we have to put up with crap like Fifty Shades of Grey, The Communist Manifesto, The Anarchist Cookbook, and various alleged snuff films. Frankly, I’m fine with that. If I don’t want to see such stuff, I will stay away from it.

But back to the movie. The opening credits of our film features a surprisingly graphic depiction of a boy cutting off his face with a pair of big, sharp scissors. The major problem with this scene can be applied to the rest of the violence throughout the film – its violence in general. The film does not know what to show onscreen and what to keep offscreen. Throughout the movie, we see plenty of brutal killings, but while some of the most gruesome facets of each kill are onscreen and shown in graphic detail, some other less gruesome facets of each kill are kept offscreen. Why? But one thing remains constant with each killing: its incredibly shoddy gore effects. Most of the time, the gore effects reach TCSM 2003 levels of bad, but sometimes the gore effects are nearing Violent Sh*t levels of facepalm-worthily, atrociously cheap. Hey, at least the gore isn’t pink like in Violent Sh*t. The gore – I’m sorry, have I been saying “gore”? I mean blood. Not gore. Horror junkies like me will understand. The blood flies too fast and too loose, and combining that with amateur rather than slick camerawork exposes the cheapness come the first kill. The amateur cinematography makes the effortless blood effects borderline comedic. And the blood is way too bright red to be anything but stage blood or red food coloring. Sigh. Even the Evil Dead trilogy had better blood effects. And those were meant to be funny.

We are introduced to our main character Tyler (Hilgenbrink), his girlfriend Serina (Montgomery), and his friend Lalo (Wyndham). Tyler is obsessed with finding “The Hills Run Red” by any means. Yes. He is easily old enough to be in college, and he is spending nearly every waking moment trying to find Concannon and his film. Talk about being obsessed.

In one scene, Tyler and Lalo go to a movie theater, buy some popcorn, and are implied to be walking toward one of the theaters. In the background, we see a glimpse of the 2002 horror failure Feardotcom. Are Tyler and Lalo seriously going to be watching that? And then the scene cuts off abruptly.

Well, that was pointless.

All right, fine, I’ll review Feardotcom.

Anyway, Tyler learns that Concannon’s daughter Alexa (Monk) works at a strip club. He meets her there and she gives him a topless lap dance. While she is sexy, I would love to know what the point of that was. Also, is it just me, or does this scene sound like a poor excuse to get some boobs onscreen as well as film inside a $20 strip club? Are our director and screenwriters closet perverts? Anyway, while Alexa does her thing, Serina cheats on Tyler with Lalo, giving us another poor excuse for boobs. Oh, and they do the deed after giving the audience a few-second-long cameo of House on Haunted Hill. As if they needed to remind us that Dark Castle made a terrible remake. Tyler goes back with Alexa to her hotel room, where he learns that she is a heroin addict and a serious slut. Over the next few days, he satisfies her sexual needs while helping her overcome her heroin addiction. Well, I hate all four of our characters already. Two of them are horny, one is a stripper and serious junkie, and the other is gullible. Well.

Tyler, Alexa, Serina, and Lalo travel to…some unnamed forest. They interview a few rednecks, hike several miles into the woods, and pitch their tents next to an abandoned campsite. The group talks about “THRR”, and Alexa gives the rest of the group, as well as the audience, backstory on the “THRR” antagonist Babyface (Vasilev). And the story Alexa tells is significantly different than the opening scene with the kid cutting off his own face. The backstory is entirely forgettable as it rips off other better backstories, but the one thing I remember is this one detail. Not because it’s disturbing, but because, as I just said, it directly contradicts the opening scene. Apparently Babyface’s father cut off his face. Right. And then the group goes to sleep.

Aaaaaand then the aforementioned rednecks attack them and prepare to rape Alexa and Serina. Aaaaaaaaaaand then, somehow, Babyface all of a sudden shows up and kills the rednecks. Babyface then chases the foursome through the woods. Strange. The original TCSM executed the intense chase sequence so much better. Alexa disappears, and Tyler gets separated from Serina and Lalo.

The three eventually come across some surprisingly well-maintained house in the middle of the woods. Tyler goes inside and finds a red-lit room with film strips hanging from the ceiling. Okay. And then he finds and releases Alexa, who was tied to a bed wearing only a pair of ridiculously skimpy panties, and with a ball gag in her mouth. Okay. That’s odd. So Babyface is a sexual torturer now? Strange – that was never mentioned before. Babyface was only ever the poor man’s Jason Voorhees. And considering the idiotic plot twist coming up later, this idea is an idiot’s rerun of Norman Bates’s issues that easily makes Gus van Sant look like Stanley Kubrick. Yes.

Alexa and Tyler leave the house, but Babyface shows up and knocks Tyler out at about the same time as Serina shows up sans Lalo. In an earlier scene, Babyface shot Lalo, going against the rules of the slasher movie: the killer NEVER uses guns or bombs. ONLY handheld melee weapons are allowed. A single crossbow kill by Jason Voorhees is the only exception. Anyway, after Tyler is knocked out, Serina runs away, and Babyface pins Alexa to the wall. And then … PLOT TWIST! … Alexa tells Babyface “Fetch,” which means “go get her”. So Alexa is EEEEEEEEEEEVIL now? No. It’s not this twist that spits on Psycho.

Babyface chases Serina. She hides in a smoke house filled with corpses. After Babyface gives up the chase (I would cry “rule broken”, but in a moment, you’ll understand why this is not the case.), Serina exits the smoke house. And then Babyface jumps down at her from the roof. How’d he get up there?

So, as the move has been playing, I presume you’ve picked up the twist. Though it was shot in 1982, “THRR” is still being filmed. And the reason that the film was banned was because the murders were real. Sigh. I expected better. Wait – this is Dark Castle. Of course they can’t execute a decent plot twist. No, this also isn’t the Psycho-shaming twist.

Tyler wakes up tied to a wheelchair. The room he is in is filled with film reels, all labeled “The Hills Run Red”. And then Wilson Wyler Concannon (Sadler) walks in and tells him his secret about the film. The twist we’ve already discovered. The murders are real. But then the Psycho-shaming twist rears its ugly head: Babyface is the child of father-daughter incest between Concannon and Alexa. And considering the previous scene in which Alexa was tied almost naked to the bed, this means that Babyface is sexually attracted to his mother. Norman Bates would be ashamed.

The next scene shows Alexa torturing Lalo as Babyface is implied to be raping Serina. Concannon and Tyler enter into the barn where the torture is happening, and Concannon and Alexa argue because Alexa wants to be a director as well. Alexa kills Lalo, Concannon shoots her, and Babyface attacks and kills Concannon. Babyface turns on Tyler, but Serina stabs him with an iron pole, apparently killing him. Aaaaaaaaand then Alexa, still alive, knocks the two of them out.

Tyler awakens in a makeshift movie theater. The corpses of all those who have died in the filming of “THHR” sit in the audience. Alexa gives Tyler the opportunity to reward his obsession – to watch the entirety of the film, uncut. Tyler is left to watch the film alone, and as he watches, he goes bonkers as he bursts out into maniacal laughter. I couldn’t help but laugh, as he looks like a guy who’s trying to win the challenge of laughing without smiling.

And then we cut to less than five seconds of credits before we get a mid-credits scene. Alexa checks on a now-very-pregnant Serina, who is presumable pregnant with Babyface’s child. Alexa shows that she plans to give Babyface’s mask to the baby, and she sings a lullaby as Serina screams.

Finally, the movie ends, dragging itself across the finish line, credits and all, at a measly hour and twenty-one minutes. What a sick sense of foreshadowing, as The Apparition would do the exact same thing three years later.

To be released in theaters, a film has to be at least an hour and twenty-five minutes long. That’s why Darkness Falls, The Apparition, and The Hills Run Red were released direct-to-DVD. Thank heaven.

With a lackluster story, unlikeable characters, a shoddy script, amateur cinematography, and terrible gore – sorry, blood – effects, The Hills Run Red falls flat.

The final nail in the coffin is that THRR ultimately tried and failed to bring two decent ideas together: generic slasher and meta-horror. And it attempted to bring them together in such a juvenile, immature, perverted way.

Scream this ain’t. Instead, it truly was a “Horrible mess with tits”.

Thanks for the help, Syngeror.

Final Verdict: .5 out of 5 stars.

Fourth of July special: Review 47: The Bay (2.5/5)

The Bay

Directed by Barry Levinson

Starring Kether Donahue, Kristen Connolly, Will Rogers, Stephen Kunken, Frank Deal

Released on September 13, 2012

Running time 1h 25m

Rated R

Genre: Horror

This is the movie all found-footage horror films should be measured against, (with the exception of Grave Encounters). The Bay. Not The Blair Witch Project, which was a vomitorium of shaky-cam. Not Paranormal Activity, which was a snoozefest that never realized its full potential, never actually went anywhere, and ultimately became more obsessed with turning a profit than telling a coherent story.

However, I’m not about to act like The Bay was a good movie. While shot professionally, competently acted, having a decent, scary story with a creepy idea, making a terrible attempt but attempt nonetheless to make an environmental message subtle, The Bay fails to rise above its clunky script and the fact that it is more of a faux eco-documentary.

The idea is actually interesting. The story revolves around an amalgamation of found footage (camcorder, 35mm, cell phone, and Skype) that has been confiscated by the government and is finally being surreptitiously revealed to the public. The footage concerns events that happened to a small East Coast town that was wiped out by horrific circumstances.

The city of Claridge, Maryland, has mass chicken farming as a staple of its economy. The chickens are given super-steroid-laced water, and forty-five million pounds of the feces are dumped into the Chesapeake Bay. The Bay frequently reminds us that the Chesapeake Bay is “40% lifeless” seemingly solely because of these lax farming and water sanitation and filtration standards. Though I can tell that this is clearly an issue, I can also tell that it is not the only, or biggest, issue surrounding pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. But this, combined with all of the other pollutants in the bay, including a nearby water desalination plant, becomes the catalyst for the beginning of a new disease.

What type of disease? Frankly, exactly what it is is explained a little too well.

The first warning signs of the disease happen when thousands of fish and birds are found dead. Not just dead, but very dead. Partially eaten. Then a pair of oceanographers who discover abnormally high water toxicity levels are also partially eaten. Then the July 4 festivities fall apart (I just realized how perfectly timed me watching The Bay was) as a woman wanders around the bustling downtown covered in blood, the crab-eating contest ends in profuse vomiting, and a series of people are admitted to the hospital because of blisters, boils, and lesions all over the body. And then the vomiting and pains in the tongue begin. And then the tongue and lips are eaten away. And then the citizens of Claridge, Maryland start dropping like flies. By the time the night is over, seven hundred people have died horribly.

It is revealed that the pollution in the Chesapeake Bay has given rise to a mutant strain of the isopod Cymothoa exigua. It is not entirely clear how people are infected, except that any contact with polluted water can and will cause infection. The larvae and adults alike will take any opportunity to enter the body through any orifice. As the isopod positions itself in the body, it lays eggs, which not only hatch and become parasitic, but eat the body from the inside out and the outside in. The main isopod will eat the victim’s tongue and essentially take its place. The victims ultimately die from massive internal bleeding.

How does the city of Claridge fall under this outbreak?

Well, OF COURSE, at first, the town’s mayor brushes it off as a minor issue whenever he’s not flat-out ignoring it. But he quickly learns his lesson and at least tries to help.

But the citizens who aren’t panicking take the opportunity to, of course, record everything. This makes up the film: a series of takes on the catastrophe that have been intercut throughout the film.

  • The most prominent of these involves a young, inexperienced news reporter and her cameraman who are reporting on the July 4 festivities, and dealing with the developing catastrophe.
  • A Skype video is intercut throughout the movie, featuring the aforementioned reporter recalling the horrific events
  • Two oceanographers who first discovered the isopods and are eventually eaten alive by them
  • A doctor informing the Centers for Disease Control about the developing situation at the hospital, and the CDC dealing with this much slower than is imperative
  • A married couple with an infant picking the wrong day to get on a boat sailing for Claridge
  • A teenage girl using FaceTime to contact her friend and detail her deterioration
  • Two teenagers going for a swim and being eaten alive by a school of isopods

What makes The Bay so much better than so many other found footage films is amounts to two major factors:  1) instead of being little more than a vomitorium of shaky-cam shot on camcorder, the majority of the footage is being professionally shot for public TV. 2) It actually has legitimately scary moments and successfully executes the “Slow Build”.

Unfortunately, Barry Levinson seems to be preoccupied with making a faux eco-documentary rather than actually scaring us and disturbing us. Either that, or he’s trying to scare us into going green.

But what is ultimately the best thing about The Bay is this: not only is the move watchable, but it is audible. What made the found-footage film Grave Encounters as good and as scary as it is was that while the video was obviously very amateurishly shot, the audio is surprisingly good.

Unlike Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project.

Final verdict: 2.5 out of 5 stars.