The Bay (film)

The Bay is a 2012 American found footage horror film directed by Barry Levinson and written by Michael Wallach. It premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and was released in theaters on November 2, 2012.[3][4]

The Bay
The Bay (film).jpg
Theatrical film poster
Directed byBarry Levinson
Produced byBarry Levinson
Jason Blum
Steven Schneider
Oren Peli
Screenplay byMichael Wallach
Story byBarry Levinson
Michael Wallach
StarringWill Rogers
Kristen Connolly
Kether Donohue
Frank Deal
Stephen Nunken
Christopher Denham
Nansi Aluka
Music byMarcelo Zarvos
CinematographyJosh Nussbaum
Edited byAaron Yanes
Distributed byLionsgate
Roadside Attractions
Release date
  • September 13, 2012 (2012-09-13) (Toronto International Film Festival)
  • November 2, 2012 (2012-11-02) (United States)
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2 million[1]
Box office$1.6 million[2]


The movie explains the footage was confiscated by the U.S. government until an anonymous source leaked the footage for the entire world to see.

On July 4, 2009, Claridge, a seaside Chesapeake Bay town nestled on Maryland's Eastern Shore thrives on water. When two researchers find a staggering level of toxicity in the water, they attempt to alert the mayor, but he refuses to take action fearing that he will create a panic. However, strange events begin to happen. During the July 4th festival, multiple people who were in the swimming pools are seen walking around, screaming "Help Me" as weird rashes begin to form on their skin. When the crab eating contest rolls around, several of the participants begin to vomit and collapse while eating the crabs, which is witnessed by rookie reporter Donna and cameraman Jim. Meanwhile, a couple, Stephanie and Alex, are with their newborn baby and are about to embark on a cruise, though Stephanie’s mom tries to talk them out of it due to the strange events in the town. However, they go anyway. Another girl uses Facetime to contact a friend, worried about a strange rash forming all over her body

At the local Hospital, the ER is overwhelmed with patients as Dr Jack Abrams witnesses the rashes spreading across the body. However, when calling the CDC, they can't trace the origins, believing it to be an unknown virus. As more incidents occur, such as teenagers being killed off while swimming, the two researchers discover that they are in fact Cymothoa exigua, or isopods, that have seemingly evolved to affect humans as well, and that the origin was from a polluted chicken farm's chemicals being dumped into the ocean. Meanwhile, cops are getting multiple calls about people dying across Claridge. That night, while investigating a noise complaint from neighbors, police officer Jimson goes to investigate a house, only to be heard screaming in horror and shooting at the people in the house. The ensuing gunshots alert fellow officer Paul, who enters the house. In a digitally enhanced audio recording, it is revealed that Jimson came across a whole family of people that had been infected and were begging Jimson to kill them. Having gone insane after seeing what has happened to the infected people in the house, Jimson kills his partner, before later shooting the sheriff and committing suicide in front of the mayor. The FaceTime girl is the next to die, having succumbed to the isopods. As more and more people are killed off by the isopods, Dr Abrams and the CDC work to try and find a cure, to no avail. Donna and Jim, who were left behind during the chaos, find that the town is abandoned, and most of the residents are dead. Soon after, the whole town is quarantined to prevent further spreading. Alex is infected and dies, while Stephanie and her newborn baby survive.

Dr Abrams is later infected, and he sends a final broadcast to the world, showing that everyone in the hospital is dead, tracing the origins of the virus, and he is the final person left in the ER, before presumably killing himself or dying from the virus. The two researchers are also killed off, and Paul's body is found by Donna and Jim.

Years Later, Donna is revealed to have been the one who leaked the footage, and tells everyone that the town was quarantined for five days and that the government covered up the incident as the result of "unusually high water temperatures". It is presumed that Claridge was abandoned, and is now a ghost town.



The film came about as a result of a documentary Levinson was asked to produce about problems facing the Chesapeake Bay.[5] Although Levinson chose to abandon the documentary upon learning that Frontline already covered the same issue, Levinson instead decided to use the research to produce a horror film which he hoped would shed light on the issues facing Chesapeake.[5] As such when promoting the film he noted that it's "80 percent factual information."[6]

Levinson chose to use the found footage format after thinking about the Pompeii disaster[5] and noting that if such a disaster happened today there would be much more evidence of what happened with him telling Yahoo! "For the very first time in history, you can get a picture of that town, if you collect all the footage from everyone's cell phones and their digital cameras and the Skypes, and the texting and everything else"[6] A byproduct of the format was that much of the footage was able to be shot by the actors themselves as opposed to a more traditional camera crew. According to Levinson roughly one third of the film was shot this way.[5]

Though the film is set in Levinson's home state of Maryland, it was shot on locations in North Carolina and South Carolina.


The film has received mostly positive reviews from critics, with a 77% "certified fresh" approval rating and an average rating of 6.58 out of 10 on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 81 reviews.[7] The website's critical consensus states that "Barry Levinson's eco-horror flick cleverly utilizes familiar found-footage methods in service of a gruesome yet atmospheric chiller." It also holds a score of 65 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 20 reviewers, indicating "generally favourable reviews".[8] David Cox of The Guardian awarded the film 5 out of 5 stars and called it a "horror film for grown ups".[9] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, however, was less positive, awarding the film 2.5 out of a possible 4, stating "Although there are some scary moments here, and a lot of gruesome ones, this isn't a horror film so much as a faux eco-documentary".[10]


  1. ^ "The Bay After: A Chat With Barry Levinson". Mother Jones. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  2. ^ "The Bay (2012)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  3. ^ Wong, Tom (September 13, 2012). "TIFF 2012: Barry Levinson's The Bay at Midnight Madness Diaries". Toronto Star. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  4. ^ "The Bay Trailer, News, Videos, and Reviews". Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d Watercutter, Angela. "The Bay Spikes Cellphone Footage With Environmental Horror". Wired. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  6. ^ a b Crow, Jonathan. "Barry Levinson on his environmental horror movie 'The Bay' – 80 percent of this is true". Yahoo!. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  7. ^ "The Bay (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  8. ^ "The Bay". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  9. ^ Cox, David (February 28, 2013). "The Bay – review". The Guardian. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger (November 7, 2012). "The Bay Movie Review & Film Summary (2012)". Retrieved June 30, 2014.

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