Typically a found footage film means one person just happens to be recording during a phenomenon and just so happens to be committed enough to risk his or her life to keep recording in order to tell the story from beginning to end in a format that just so happens to match a standard screenplay structure. Kudos to director Barry Levinson and writer Michael Wallach for making a movie that actually attempts to compile a more realistic version of found footage, but, in the end, doing so at the expense of a proper narrative and engaging characters just isn’t worth it.
Donna Thompson (Kether Donohue) is a college student interning at a local TV station who’s getting her first big gig – covering the Independence Day festivities in Claridge, Maryland. Conveniently located along the Chesapeake Bay, the day is packed with water-related events – swimming, a crab eating contest, a dunk tank and more. Too bad none of the Claridge officials properly investigated the recent case of two dead oceanographers. Otherwise they might have realized a parasitic outbreak was brewing in their pristine bay.
The story is framed just as you might expect – three years after the nightmare, Donna finally gets ahold of the footage from July 4, 2009 and opts to stitch it together, creating a found footage film. Donohue’s a fine actress, but it’s a tough sell as Levinson merely has 2012 Donna preaching to a computer camera, Skype-style in an empty room. But what makes it even tougher to connect to Donna is the fact that “The Bay” isn’t even her story. Donna commands a good portion of the film’s first act, but then we move into a montage of Donna’s 2009 footage as well as snippets from a number of other perspectives.
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