The Bay (2012)

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Released 5-Jun-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror/Sci-Fi None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 81:10
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Barry Levinson
Studio
Distributor
Entertainment One Starring Kristen Connolly
Christopher Denham
Jane McNeill
Kether Donohue
Tim Parati
Andy Stahl
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music Marcelo Zarvos


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio Varies
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Varies Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Remember Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson, the veteran who brought us such well-known films such as Diner, The Natural, Good Morning Vietnam, Rain Man and Bugsy? His latest film, The Bay deserves accolades for attempting to revitalise the found footage subgenre into something more intellectual. However, this genre of filmmaking suffers from the limitations of its format; despite Levinson attempting to incorporate a sci-fi faux documentary element into the events of this film, it still carries the overtones of films such as The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity.

     The Bay utilises an eco-disaster premise with the unethical dumping of waste off the shores of a fictional seaside town in Maryland. The waste contains steroids fed to chickens, which coincidentally allows a parasite isopod creature to grow and begin to kill fish in their millions, until finally the parasite begins to affect humans on a fateful Independence Day holiday in 2009. Just like in Jaws, the mayor, to his peril, ignores scientific research in regards to the water. What follows is disorder and mayhem, and the authorities shutting off access to the town from the connecting bridge (this is implied in the film). The film is narrated via a Skype teleconference call from a beginner reporter and college intern, Donna Thompson (Kether Donohue, Pitch Perfect) using found footage, mainly in CCTV cameras (but also mobile phones, CCTV, Skype and FaceTime chats) three years after the event has been covered up.

     Although The Bay is presented as a contemporary news report, using video, images and text from sources such as social chat applications, it still uses elements found in horror films such as loud jolts of noise and ominous non-diegetic music. These sound effects, added for the dramatic effect, I think begin to blur what the film is; it tries to be a news report documentary and horror film at the same time and it doesn't quite succeed.

     The story doesn't offer anything in the way of characterisation, simply because there is no time for it. I appreciated the drama relating to the response of emergency services, the police, hospital staff (through the brave work of the only town hospital doctor who stays behind on duty, played by Stephen Kunken as Dr. Jack Abrams) and the experts at the Disease Control Centre. Despite the intentions of the film, as to being a horror film or a reality-spoofed documentary with a modern ecological message, I admire Barry Levinson's attempt here to fuse the two genres together, even if he doesn't get it quite right.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The video transfer uses grainy mobile phone images, over-exposed and unfocused CCTV footage and low resolution video chat to authenticate its premise.

     The aspect ratio varies, but is presented within a 1:85:1 frame, 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

     There are elements of sharp camera work here. The average bitrate is 6.64 m/b per sec, which is average for a DVD transfer.

     The colour scheme employed by Levinson portrays the hot summer days of July very well and contrasts that later in the film with the night scenes.

     Video artefacts are deliberately included for creative reasons, so we get low level noise and aliasing at times.

     There are no subtitles provided.

     There is no RSDL change because The Bay is presented on a single-layer DVD5 disc 4.08 gb in size.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     There are two audio tracks to choose from, a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 448 kbps and a Digital Dolby Stereo 2.0 track encoded at 192 kbps.

     Dialogue is mainly clear, but when it is not it is supported by text on-screen. The audio is synchronised.

     The musical score by Marcelo Zarvos is sparse and ominous at times, as is common for modern horror films.

     We get surround channel usage from all speakers, with emphasis in the front and dialogue from the centre speaker, which is standard for a 5.1 mix. Ironically, most of the video sources would employ mono or stereo footage at best, so maybe it would be wiser and temperate to consider the less dynamic 2.0 mix when watching the film?

     The subwoofer is used sparingly to add dramatic effect to shock viewers with some gruesome scenes that are viewed.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras unfortunately!

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 United States release includes an audio commentary from director Barry Levinson and a 12-minute interview with him (summarising a lot of the points he makes in his commentary), while the Region 2 United Kingdom version contains an 8-minute making-of featurette. If you are interested in adding this film to your collection, The Region 1 is the DVD to go for!

Summary

     One must admire Barry Levinson for refusing to typecast himself by continuing to direct the dramatic films he is known for from the 1980s. That said, The Bay suffers from being difficult to compartmentalise because it attempts to fuse two very different genres. I also find it hard to believe that an event like this could be covered up in the way it's presented in the movie. Despite this, one can still admire Levinson's experience on show here and the plausibility of the ecological events, which is refreshing in comparison to the implausible supernatural events we normal get with found footage genre movies.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Friday, May 10, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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