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.