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
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. As a result, a deadly plague is unleashed, turning humans into hosts for a deadly, mutant breed of the isopod parasite Cymothoa exigua.

The entire town is overwhelmed by chaos as these aggressive creatures start infecting the people one by one. This spins off into several stories. The most prominent is that of a young inexperienced news reporter and her cameraman, who are in the town to report on the 4th of July festivities. She also explains the occurrences as the movie proceeds in an off-scene personal recording. The other stories include two oceanographers who first discovered the parasites; two on-duty police deputies investigating a residential area; a young unsuspecting couple taking a last swim; a teenage girl using FaceTime to send a desperate message to a friend; a doctor who informs two agents at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the developing situation at the local hospital; and, among others, a young married couple with an infant aboard a vessel who sail towards their family's home to reunite for the holidays, unaware of the horrific events unfolding on the mainland.



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 76% "certified fresh" approval rating and an average rating of 6.5 out of 10 on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 74 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. Watercutter, Angela. "The Bay Spikes Cellphone Footage With Environmental Horror". Wired. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  6. 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 December 28, 2018.
  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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