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Nordling Is Really Creeped Out By THE BAY!

Nordling here.

I've seen thousands of horror movies.  I love the genre, but I can't help feeling a kind of disconnect when they get gory, as I imagine many of you do.  I start looking at technical aspects as opposed to just riding it out with the terror and fear of the movie.  It's not intentional - it just happens.  It comes from seeing horror movies since I was five years old and wanting to know how in the hell the filmmakers did that.  Oh, sometimes a particularly gory moment will get past my shields and freak me out, but it's rare.

But horror movies that hint at the gore or disturbing imagery, those get to me.  I'm still in shock over certain sequences in THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, for example, because it's my own mind filling the blanks as opposed to the filmmaker's.  That's when found footage really works for me - it's all in the possibility of what you MIGHT see.  The anticipation and the build-up are what make a great horror movie, and that ride you take with the filmmaker is my favorite kind of journey as a film fan.  Now, Barry Levinson is certainly not the first name you think of when you think of really disturbing horror, but damn if he didn't make a really disturbing horror movie in THE BAY.

THE BAY is an environmental horror movie set in Levinson's beloved Maryland - specifically, Claridge, Maryland, a community that lives and plays off Chesapeake Bay.  The movie is made up of footage gathered from news cameras, iPhones, and various other video sources, all collected on July 4th, 2009, as the town enters it's annual Fourth of July celebration.  But something is growing in the waters outside Claridge.  Something called an Isopod, very real creatures, that due to the contaminants in the water, begin to grow unchecked.  As they begin to invade the food and water supply, these Isopods begin to feed on human flesh as well, and what was supposed to be a day of frivolity and happiness turns into one of the worst days in memory.  The government has blocked all footage from the public, but THE BAY purports to be that missing footage, released by a Wikileaks-like news organization to make the world aware of the horrors that happened that fateful day in Claridge.

Since this is from the production team that brought us PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, you might be surprised to find that there's more to THE BAY than just scaring audiences.  It's got quite a bit to say about environmental dumping and the like, but if you're not interested in the politics of it all, THE BAY still works as just a really effective horror movie.  The Isopods are seen just enough - and make their appearances in particularly gruesome ways - and do not overstay their welcome.  It also helps that THE BAY is full of characters that the audience feels empathy towards - there are only a few characters that we get to know through the course of the movie, like Donna (Kether Donohue), an intern at the local news channel, or Stephanie (Kristen Connolly), a young mother traveling with her husband by boat to see his parents in Claridge before things start going down.  But mostly, we just meet people through their daily lives, until a sudden outbreak of rashes and sickness begin to affect the townsfolk and the hospital becomes overrun.

The ecology of the Isopod is explained in a very detailed manner, so that when the nasty stuff really begins to happen the audience knows why and how.  Levinson and writer Michael Wallach take great pains to keep the movie as scientifically accurate as possible (or as accurate as a movie about parasitic water bugs can be).  From a personal standpoint, when it comes to gore I can stomach slasher movies   or gorefests like HOSTEL or the EVIL DEAD movies.  But it's the little things, like needle pricks or small insects, that freak me out, and THE BAY has all of that.  One particular jump scare had me rubbing my arms, genuinely disturbed, and that doesn't happen often.

Barry Levinson has obviously never done anything like this before.  This is the Oscar-winning director of RAIN MAN, and such classic movies as DINER or THE NATURAL or even YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES, but there's nothing in his roster that suggests anything like THE BAY.  That's not to suggest it's equal to those movies in caliber - THE BAY is scary and fun, but it certainly ain't no DINER.  But Levinson directs THE BAY with a fierce passion that seems surprising considering its subject matter - Levinson feels very strongly about the environment, and that comes through in the movie, but he also doesn't let that passion override the movie's effectiveness.  Like JAWS before it, THE BAY may well be that movie that keeps you out of the water for a while, and also like that movie, you might want to explore the movie's ideas and ecology after you see it.  THE BAY didn't have to be as good as it was, but Levinson isn't pulling punches here at all.  The last 20 minutes of the movie could be frightening to anyone who lets it in, and I'll admit that THE BAY got me.  At times, it got me good.

THE BAY opens in theaters today, but is also available on VOD and iTunes.

Nordling, out.  Follow me on Twitter!

Readers Talkback
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  • ...apart from that I have become completely desensitized to horror by watching way to many

  • Nov. 2, 2012, 8:02 p.m. CST

    takes place in maryland but...

    by katchoo67

    filmed in north carolina. because they are sooo much alike.

  • Nov. 2, 2012, 8:05 p.m. CST

    My great creepy "not seeing" moment in a movie is

    by sweeneydave

    at the end of Rosemary's Baby. "HIS EYES!! WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIS EYES?!!!" What DID they do to his eyes? I guess we'll never know, but every time I remember that scene, my mind fills in the blanks of what my mind's eye was seeing at that time - and it terrifies me.

  • Nov. 2, 2012, 8:13 p.m. CST

    Michael Bay creeps me out too.

    by HornyForHarry

  • Nov. 2, 2012, 8:32 p.m. CST

    hornyforharry - you're citing me... well done!

    by wtriker1701

    I seriously thought, it would be an article about Michael.... Though I still LOVE Armageddon!

  • Nov. 2, 2012, 8:45 p.m. CST

    I thought this was about Michael Bay...

    by GBH

    oh wait is it?

  • Nov. 2, 2012, 8:48 p.m. CST

    Cool. [REC] is the last horror movie to really freak me out.

    by Autodidact

    Although THE GRUDGE still freaks me out to this day sometimes in bed at night.

  • Should initiate a government order to bring said reviewer to justice (ie; hanging, stoning, etc). BTW --- it seems the TB for the Disney buyout of LucasFilm is locked, or reached some kind of post limit. Might want to fix that.

  • Nov. 2, 2012, 8:52 p.m. CST

    Isopods-new from Apple

    by Bagel13

  • Nov. 2, 2012, 8:58 p.m. CST

    RAIN MAN? That's no selling point, Nerdling.

    by BeanGrud

  • Nov. 2, 2012, 9:06 p.m. CST

    Levinson helped make the subway episode from Homicide

    by tangcameo

    Vicent D'Onofrio twisted nearly in two when pushed in front of a Baltimore subway train. For nearly the whole hour we see him pinned between the train and the floor and are told as soon as they try to pry him loose he'll die. It's where we got the Robot Chicken 'Train Man' song from.

  • Nov. 2, 2012, 9:06 p.m. CST



    Presented by Ad Blocker Plus

  • Nov. 2, 2012, 10:18 p.m. CST

    The poster

    by Chairman_Kaga

    makes me think it's The Tingler remake.

  • Nov. 2, 2012, 11:06 p.m. CST

    There is a sequence in Young Sherlock Holmes...

    by Dan

    ...that might point to his affinity with horror, as a genre; you know the one, when they're drugged inthe church yard, and the cakes and other pastries and various 'things' come alive and start attacking them - that was pretty horrifying. So, form, anyway.

  • ...oh wait, you meant a movie called 'The Bay'. We're still creeped out by the other Bay and the prospect of his directing any one of the new Star Wars sequels.

  • Nov. 2, 2012, 11:16 p.m. CST

    Parasites are the next Zombies

    by Green

  • Nov. 3, 2012, 12:15 a.m. CST

    The Grudge does have some damn good creepy moments.

    by Simpsonian

  • There's a line of dialogue where they point out the baby has his father's eyes. By which they mean Satan. And you see those eyes in the movie. This website has a picture of the shot in question toward the end. That's what they did to his eyes. Glad I could ruin one of your great life mysteries. *bow*

  • Nov. 3, 2012, 4:33 a.m. CST

    I'm always creeped out by The Bay too. His first name is Michael.

    by albert comin

  • So this movie is a biopic of Michael Bay.

  • Nov. 3, 2012, 4:45 a.m. CST

    Totally off topic but....

    by Mr Kite

    I just saw Skyfall in the UK and I'm sorry to say that I was really dissapointed. Over hyped and not a patch on Casino Royale. I won't go into detail because I don't wan't to post spoilers but I'm looking forward to other people's (not critics) opinions on this site.

  • Nov. 3, 2012, 7:44 a.m. CST

    @sweeneydave... the eyes

    by IamHERE

    The baby had reptillian eyes and they flash it for just a second. This is why she is saying that.

  • Nov. 3, 2012, 7:45 a.m. CST

    Fat mummies are the new zombies.

    by Bedknobs and Boomsticks

  • Nov. 3, 2012, 7:49 a.m. CST

    The Bay

    by sengoksa

    Saw it last night totally agree with nordling Its a superior found footage movie...

  • Nov. 3, 2012, 8:54 a.m. CST

    Cymothoa Exigua

    by JRcanReid

    I read about these creepy fuckers on Scroll down to #6.

  • Nov. 3, 2012, 10:10 a.m. CST

    So, it's a kind of updated 'Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster'?

    by Roman Troy Moronie

    minus Godzilla... though it's known as 'Godzilla vs. Hedorah' to Godzilla fans. Hedorah being created by toxic dumping into Tokyo Bay. Sounds similar to 'The Host' as well ... Looks interesting though, so I'll definitely check it out.

  • Nov. 3, 2012, 10:13 a.m. CST

    Rosemary's Baby

    by olo

    It is not the point there are hints in the movie to how the baby's eyes look, direct or subliminally. In the ending, when Rosemary looks inside the cradle, and says: 'what have you done to his eyes', there is no shot of the baby's eyes, and thus you still are left to imagine, either using previous glimpses or your own imagination. And I do hope you use your own imagination. It is quite horrific as you simply don't KNOW what the baby looks like, could still be anything. Am curious to see The Bay now, the trailer didn't do much for me. But, used well, I simply can't get myself to hate "found footage" movies like all the cool kids do. Actually, back in film school I came up with a script that used found footage and newsreels as an important element but this was criticized so heavily by the teachers that they pressured the director into rewriting it as otherwise they wouldn't let him graduate. The main criticism was it could never work. This was about a year before Blair Witch came out. We all looked at each other after seeing it and went...'fuck!'. (yes maybe my script was shit and that was the reason, but actually, no, it wasn't shit, the rewritten version was abysmal and we don't talk about it anymore)

  • Nov. 3, 2012, 11:47 a.m. CST

    5 years ago, 1408 scared me.

    by Ian Masterson

    But that's pretty much been it. And I was only 12, so... Will try and find this one, though. Sounds like fun.

  • Nov. 3, 2012, 12:07 p.m. CST

    Should have gotten Tom Cruise.

    by gruemanlives

  • Nov. 3, 2012, 12:29 p.m. CST

    Just VOD'd this

    by chad kuhns

    Nordling is actually pretty spot on with his review. The one thing this film has going for it, is that despite the built in jump scares here and there, it actually shows restraint. It was nice to see a creature flick that didn't feel the need to over expose the creatures. This one is definitely one of the best in the crop of found footage flims

  • Nov. 3, 2012, 1:07 p.m. CST

    Rosemary's baby's eyes

    by buggerbugger

    The problem with the baby having eyes exactly like those of his father is that it makes Rosemary sound like she's a little slow on the uptake. Why would she ask what they'd done to his eyes if she's already seen eyes like that during her rapemare? She'd be more likely to say something like "Oh God, it's true, it really did happen, I was Satanraped!" True, the Satanists say that the baby has his father's eyes, but who's to say they've actually seen Satan? It seems more probable that the baby has some kind of scary, inhuman eyes and the Satanists are assuming that's what their unseen Master's eyes must look like, considering the baby's got a bad case of monstereyes. So I think there's room for the imagination to still wonder what the baby's eyes look like. A modern-day remake would, no doubt, end on a close-up freeze-frame of the baby opening its CG eyes because movies are subtle like that nowadays. Personally, I like to imagine that the baby's wearing Elton John spectacles. Sure, that's probably more upbeat than Polanski intended, but what the hell.

  • Nov. 3, 2012, 2:55 p.m. CST

    Found footage movies = no ticket purchase

    by thot

    some movie ideas look quite good when I read the synopsis. then I read "found footage" and my mind checks out immediately. SO friggin' tired of it. almost as bad as the grossly overused Matrix-ish action scenes in every other action movie.

  • Nov. 3, 2012, 3:59 p.m. CST

    So this is like Dante's Piranha, except serious.

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    And I know what Nordling means. The scenes in Black Swan when she's pulling flesh away from her finger was really effective because its was small and relatable.

  • Nov. 3, 2012, 4:19 p.m. CST

    You had me at Kristen Connolly...

    by SlyAndTheFamilyStallone

  • Nov. 3, 2012, 6:14 p.m. CST

    kether donohue

    by fixedupdice

    i would insert my penis into her vigina.......... if you know what i mean.

  • Nov. 3, 2012, 9:42 p.m. CST

    Wow, lookit all the "brave people" shooting at a sitting duck!

    by Brett Peacock

    I think that "Herr Professor Doktor" Michael Bay is a terrible, mostly talentless director too. (That said, he actually did show flashes of actual ability in the first half or so of "The Island", but then decided chases and explosions were way easier...(or he found out that he was under budget....) But Free cheap shots are still Cheap Shots. and for all you folks complaining about the lack of an edit facility... ...try READING what you have written BEFORE posting, instead of AFTERWARDS.

  • Nov. 3, 2012, 10:12 p.m. CST

    kiwibloke first time at AICN

    by Xiphos_2

    or the internet for that matter? This is the backbone of the internet its why it was made, free cheap shots....and porn.

  • Nov. 4, 2012, 7:41 a.m. CST

    And if you really, really believe that...

    by Brett Peacock

    ... then I've got a bridge I can sell to you..... I've been a netizen since the days of actual dial up bulletin boards.... in other words, long enough to tire of "Obese 12 years olds", pretending they're actual adults and along the way, displaying the emotional maturity of 4 year olds. kind of like a lot (not all, just a significant portion...) of AICN TB's...and about 70% of ther TB's and forums I've been to or am a member of... And yes, I'm over a wide margin. As I said, It takes a "Brave" TB'er to take a cheap shot - at a sitting duck like M. Bay. He can't help being a bad director and somewhat Stupid to boot.

  • ...jesus....... folks are entitled to like what the fuck they want.

  • Nov. 4, 2012, 8:11 a.m. CST


    by sam jacksons wig

    Sorry mate, but Michael Bay can help being a bad director. He has unfortunately struck upon a formula that, whilst making movies with the integrity and intelligence of dog sick, also make billions at the box office. So, whilst he CAN change how he makes movies, he really doesn't have to. The public has put him where he is, and will continue to do so. Whilst I can't stand the smug bastard, I have to applaud him.

  • Nov. 4, 2012, 8:14 a.m. CST

    thot - found footage-

    by sam jacksons wig

    agree that the formula is over worked, but it wont go away anytime soon for a couple of reasons: 1) its return to budget is generally massive. 2) its a cheap way of making movies and showcasing "new" moviemakers that can't generally get a film deal with a major studio. For that reason alone it needs to stay. Without it, we may miss the possibility of seeing a new generation of film makers emerge.

  • Nov. 4, 2012, 9:36 a.m. CST

    I turned this garbage off after 30 minutes

    by animas

    Sometimes I wonder if reviewers think about their own credibility...

  • Nov. 4, 2012, 10:13 a.m. CST


    by Xiphos_2

    If any of what you wrote is true then you should know what the score is and not act like a butt hurt 4 year old, which isn't a cheap shot, just an observation. You must be sort of slow and dense not to realize that's how the internet works in regard to bad directors and everybody else. Those were two "cheap" shots by the way since you seem to be obsessed with the issue.

  • Netflix Canada has been posting some of the worst shite ever made, stuff that looks like it was filmed on videotape, and calling it movies.

  • Nov. 4, 2012, 4:38 p.m. CST

    Just watched it-- that was damn effective

    by Laserhead

    Much more effective than Contagion or the PA movies, for me. And I will never, ever get in the Chesapeake Bay.

  • Nov. 4, 2012, 10:53 p.m. CST

    I don't know what you watched dandelien

    by trumovielover

    but The Bay I just watched was pretty damn creepy & disturbing. Very very effective horror movie and I've seen tons of horror the last 30 years.

  • Nov. 5, 2012, 3:32 a.m. CST

    Steer Clear

    by alex

    The movie sucks big time... even for a found footage flick.

  • Nov. 5, 2012, 8:23 a.m. CST

    I suppose it's filmed with actual i-phone cameras too.

    by tradeskilz

    Letting us guess what the fuck is actually going on on the screen, as we obviously can't see a good damn thing amidst the grainy picture, poor lighting and shaky footage. I've missed so many potentially interesting movies the last 10 years because they were made to look like found footage. I just can't stand to watch that shit. Or rather, listen to it.

  • Nov. 5, 2012, 8:29 a.m. CST

    Eh. Watched it last night. It's okay - not bad but not great either.

    by Elgyn6655321

  • Nov. 5, 2012, 10:53 a.m. CST

    A film about Michael Bay? Holy sh*t just the sound of that scares me!

    by AllThosePowers

  • Nov. 5, 2012, 10:55 a.m. CST

    Enough with the found footage genre - just make good movies

    by I_Snake_Plissken

    Cloverfield was okay, the original Blair Witch was great for its time, otherwise found footage has been done to death at this point.

  • Nov. 5, 2012, 1:03 p.m. CST

    Dang You Michael The Bay!

    by animatronicmojo

  • Didn't he do Sphere? Another water based "horror" movie...just sayin!!

  • I don't like to be preached at. Just do regular thrillers and I will be there.

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 3:38 p.m. CST

    watched this today and it fucking sucked

    by Lostboytejas

    This shit makes low budget look expensive! And none of it made any sense. Tech-wise, it's fucking clueless. People emailing HD video to the CDC. The CDC working on shit in Canada (um, different country!), the girl on the cellphone to her friend but when the call cuts off it shows the iphone screen and she had been making a video? how about the email typing itself out then the signature line magically fading in? I lost count of how much this film fucking sucked.

  • Nov. 18, 2012, 6:54 a.m. CST

    Great movie!


    It'll be a while until I go near water again, that's for sure!