by Brody Rossiter
For the decades the disaster movie has been a mainstay of Hollywood cinema. Audiences have sheepishly experienced killer volcanoes, killer earthquakes, killer overgrown creatures of various shapes, sizes, and levels of scaliness, and obviously the complete and total annihilation of the world in numerous cataclysmic manners. This has been especially true over recent years as ‘post-apocalyptic’ has become an inescapable sub-genre of not just film, but also gaming (The Last of Us) and television (The Walking Dead) – both examples also utilising horror conventions to relay their incredibly powerful and accomplished storytelling.
Despite films such as Pacific Rim and the Godzilla reboot harkening back to that classical form of spectacular, effect-driven disaster film, no longer are we satisfied with just fantastical action-packed decimation; we now long for the slow, arduous and often brutally gory defeat of mankind by creepy zombie/disease variants. Luckily if you too share that unquenchable nihilistic thirst, then The Bay is your kind of disaster/horror hybrid.
Presented in ‘found footage’ faux documentary manner – predominantly through the experiences of a junior newscaster covering 4th of July festivities – The Bay follows the destruction of an American seaside town by means of deadly waterborne plague. From the offset, the unearthing of the ‘evidence’ you view onscreen is contextualised as information suppressed by the US government – its airing akin to that of a Wiki Leaks-esque justice hunt for the town and its hundreds of victims. Thankfully the conspiracy theory undercurrent isn’t too strong throughout the film, and the depiction of mass panic, which mutates into the individual struggle of characters from doctors, to a young mother, to government virus specialists, is allowed to take precedence. A hard-hitting tale that will suck you into its thrilling yet hair-raising disaster voyage quickly surfaces.
Despite its scientific revenge of nature take on the horror genre – rationalising events with a timeline of where, when and how things went bad – The Bay is still a scare fest. It becomes incredibly creepy and unsettling as the physical and mental toll taken on the town’s citizens becomes increasingly grotesque and destructive. Whether or not the events are actually capable of occurring in reality, the films presentation makes them feel very real – immersing you and making you question “what would I do when faced with this living hell?” It may not be a traditional horror flick but if you have an appetite for destruction and aren’t concerned about being scared of open water for the rest of your days, then The Bay is the perfect retreat for horror lovers – just remember your Speedo and armbands.