Although the first thing that comes to mind would be to honour the classic camp slashers or creature-feature flicks, I decided to welcome summer with Barry Levinson’s The Bay (2012) on Shudder. This found footage mockumentary portrays what we first may confuse with a viral outbreak, but is in fact a parasitic outbreak. If something is better than a mutated virus, it would obviously be mutated parasites…

“Set in the town of Claridge, Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay. During the town’s annual 4th of July Crab Festival, townspeople become sick, exhibiting a variety of symptoms, which leads local news reporters to suspect something has infected the water there. No one is sure what it is or how it’s transmitted, but as people start to behave strangely, and others turn up dead, fear spawns into panic.”

The Bay is more realistic than we would like to admit. While originally aiming to create a documentary to show the devastating results of pollution at Chesapeake Bay, Barry Leviston took a much darker and certainly not less sadistic turn of what could happen to wildlife if toxic waste kept being carelessly dumped in the oceans.

A very small town soon faces a very big problem when the locals start walking around the streets with bleeding blisters that become infected to the point where writing down the disgusting details would spoil the surprise. All I would say is that Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever immediately came to mind and that the shaken camera does not really spare us from the gore of what fully grown parasitic creatures could do to a human body while crawling their way from the inside.

There are a few reasons why I find this movie to be one of the most original, most creative, and most underrated found footage flicks to be made so far. By underrated, I mean considering the low amount of money it made at the Box Office, which unfortunately did not exceed the budget.

This makes me realise the importance of reminding horror movie fans that profit means nothing in the horror industry. Big studios have always had the advantage of paid advertisement to inflate success. Sometimes it is well deserved and more often it becomes rather a false advertisement. In my humble opinion, this should be a principle to always keep in mind when buying tickets.

Firstly as a testament to the unique quality, there is more than one camera. This is the easiest way to my heart because it gives us the opportunity to explore more characters, more situations, and frankly, more deaths.

Furthermore, the variety of the screen portrayal is amazingly wide. We get to follow a news reporter and her cameraman trying to make as much evidence as possible, a local doctor desperately seeking help from medical institutions through Skype, a young girl sharing her experiences through a video call with her friend, a couple filming their holidays, marine scientists studying the pollution in the water, dash camera in a police car and many more. They did not neglect the CCTVs in the hospital or in the streets, nor text messages on people’s phones.

Additionally, we follow the outcomes of the spread, the madness of people, and the heartbreaking fast-paced decay of the whole town. Most importantly, we get little hints throughout the whole movie as to what exactly is happening and why.

This brings me to my second point, and that would be the mockumentary part. This movie may be understood as quite a political satire. We all know from our favourite zombie flicks what the government would do if any kind of infection spread in one place. However, we also get to see how ignorance, money, and power the severity of the harm it can cause. Although this is taken to an extreme, it nevertheless feels very realistic and somehow even possible.

Thirdly, without giving too much, there are some jump scares that work very well. However, it is not only the moment of surprise when someone (or something) unexpectedly jumps into the camera view. It is also the sound being added almost seamlessly. One thing is to be disgusted by a parasite slowly devouring human beings from the inside, but to add all the squeaking, cries for help and absolutely horrific screams of pain is what puts the cherry on top. The noises a person could be capable of while suffering unbelievable pain under unbelievable circumstances deeply made my skin crawl.

Finally, the brutal aftermath of the whole parasitic pandemic is something to gasp over. All the gory details, the bodies scattered everywhere around the town and the fact we even get to see the actual creatures in different stages of growth is a treat every eco-horror fan would wish for.

After a predominantly paranormal theme with the found footage subgenre, we should definitely add this gem to our watch list, especially since it is perfect for a summer horror theme.

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