An unlikely fit for director Barry Levinson that indeed turns out to be a poor one, "The Bay" is a gruesome but uninspired environmental-disaster thriller.

An unlikely fit for director Barry Levinson that indeed turns out to be a poor one, “The Bay” is a gruesome but uninspired environmental-disaster thriller that’s an unconvincing example of the overexposed faux-found-footage horror subgenre. More icky than suspenseful, with little cumulative narrative muscle, it’s an OK-at-best time-filler more suited for home formats than theatrical exposure.

Framed as documentary video leaked online by a survivor, pic chronicles a deadly 2008 incident that’s since been hushed up by the Feds. July 4th festivities in Chesapeake, Md. (actually Georgetown, S.C., standing in) curdle when citizens begin suffering outbreaks of ugly boils, vomiting, bloodletting and worse. Turns out the culprit is a pollution-bred isopod that’s infested the bay, its maggot-like larvae turning into cockroach-like flesh-eaters. Major characters — none very interesting or well acted — include the blind-eye-turning mayor, a novice TV reporter, and yachting yuppies-plus-baby. It’s “Jaws” meets “Parasite” meets “Contagion,” a retread mashup to which Levinson brings little flair for action, menace or scares. Even within a multiformat quasi-reality context, the pic has a cheap feel.

The Bay

Production

A Lionsgate release presented with Alliance Films in association with IM Global, Hydraulx Entertainment and Automatik of a Baltimore Pictures/Haunted Movies production. (International sales: IM Global, Los Angeles.) Produced by Barry Levinson, Jason Blum, Steven Schneider, Oren Peli. Executive producers, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Jason Sosnoff, Colin Strause, Greg Strause. Co-producer, Liam O'Donnell. Directed by Barry Levinson. Screenplay, Michael Wallach, from a story by Levinson and Wallach.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Josh Nussbaum; editor, Aaron Yanes; music, Marcelo Zarvos; production designer, Lee Bonner; art director, Stan Flint; set decorator, Glenn Peison; costume designer, Emmie Holmes; visual effects, Hydraulx; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS), Jonathan Gaynor; supervising sound editor/sound designer, Mariusz Glabinski; re-recording mixers, Reilly Steele, Dominick Tavella; assistant director, Urs Hirschbiegel; casting, Ellen Chenoweth, Amelia McCarthy. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Midnight Madness), Sept. 12, 2012. Running time: 84 MIN.

With

Will Rogers, Kristen Connolly, Kether Donohue, Frank Deal, Stephen Kunken, Christopher Denham, Nansi Aluka.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more