Film: The Bay

The Bay is a 2012 found footage horror film from the producer of Paranormal Activity and Insidious. It was directed by Barry Levinson and written by Michael Wallach.

Welcome to Claridge, Maryland, on scenic Chesapeake Bay. Come for the Fourth of July celebration, stay for the seafood, and never mind the chicken farms dumping pollution into the bay or the two dead marine biologists they found last week. But when the festivities are interrupted by a mysterious illness, fear leads to panic…

Not to be confused with the Canadian department store chain that was once the Hudson's Bay Company.


This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adult Fear: There is a mysterious and quickly spreading epidemic going around town. The hospital and other medical facilities are overrun and the medical personnel have never seen anything like this. Your neighbors are dying in horrific pain and are being mutilated by unseen forces. That alone is terrifying, but the horror gets worse as parents are watching their children get sick and being unable to do anything about it. And worse — it comes from the town's water supply. The water you're drinking and immersing yourself in is killing you.
  • Apocalyptic Log: This is what some of the footage is, particularly the videos left by Dr. Abrams, the head doctor who must deal with the outbreak at the local hospital, and Jennifer, a young girl who records the progress of her infection via a Skype/YouTube-like web app.
  • Artistic License – Biology: At one point in the film, a fisherman pulls up a fish with one of the mutant isopods in its mouth. He's holding the fish with his thumb in its mouth, and the isopod lunges out and attacks his arm, after which it scuttles off the deck with equally impressive speed. The real life speed of Cymothoa exigua is rather less impressive. In addition, C. exigua feeds on blood, not flesh. Finally, while the two previous breaks from reality are probably justified by the fact that these are mutated isopods, there's the fact that real isopod larvae don't look like grubs. Isopods undergo hemimetabolism (incomplete metamorphosis), so an isopod larva looks like a tiny version of an adult.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: Isopods.
  • Bad Black Barf: Once the parasites have started munching on internal organs.
  • Black Comedy: Although the film is fairly unrelentingly grim throughout, the inclusion of the young Miss Crustacean appearing again as one of the dead bodies in Main Street, having been ravaged by crustaceans is certainly a deliberate irony.
  • Body Horror: Starts with rashes of giant blisters and gets worse from there.
  • Chest Burster: The isopods like to chew their way out through the stomach. Or exit via the mouth after stopping to snack on the tongue. Or through the side of the neck.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: To Stephanie and baby Andrew as they try to flee Claridge in an abandoned police car.
  • Daylight Horror: Bad things kick off on a bright and sunny July 4th.
  • Eaten Alive: By parasitic isopods. From the inside out.
  • Facial Horror: When Donna and her cameraman discover a still-living victim whose tongue and lips have been eaten.
    • One of the dead patients in Dr. Abrams's final video has had his entire lower face eaten away.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Donna tells us in the beginning about the deaths of Dr. Abrams and her cameraman.
  • Foreshadowing: The police chief has to remind the mayor to buckle his seat belt while riding in the police car. The mayor later dies of injuries received after a car wreck.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When the characters are doing a web search for information on the creatures, you can see a piece of artwork by John Wojcik, of Bogleech and Mortasheen fame, whose nature articles focusing on especially disturbing wildlife are largely responsible for the popularity the Cymothoa exigua has gained on the internet.
  • Ghost Town: When Stephanie and Alex arrive, Claridge has been reduced to this.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation / Despair Event Horizon: When Officers Jimson and Paul investigate a house where neighbors have reported hearing screaming, Officer Jimson discovers the living and partially devoured residents who beg him to kill them. He does so and is driven insane by what's happening to them. He ends up killing his partner and then later fatally shoots the sheriff and himself. This may also have to do with the fact that some of the isopods got into him earlier.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: We never see the living victims who beg to be killed by Officer Jimson, but based on how they sound, that may be for the best.
  • Government Conspiracy: The footage that makes up the movie was supposedly classified by the government.
  • Green Aesop: The isopods mutate because of exposure to hormones in the farm runoff polluting the bay. The film reminds viewers that pollution can have a devastating impact on public health. In real life, the Chesapeake Bay has been polluted for decades by farm runoff, among other things.
  • Hazardous Water: Extremely hazardous - both from pollution and from the mutated isopods.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Takes place on the Fourth of July.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. While we don't see their deaths, a number of small children in the beginning footage have the blisters and rash. One of the Apocalyptic Logs contains the deaths of two teenagers and we later see the body of Jennifer in Dr. Abrams's final video.
    • Also played straight in that baby Andrew survives.
  • Karmic Death: Mayor John Stockman's death can be seen as a roundabout version of this. As part of the Chesapeake Environmental Council, he would have seen (or at least heard about) the videos the two oceanographers had sent in. The karmic part comes into play as the mayor ends up in a car crash and dies from the injuries he sustains because the medical personnel have either died or fled due to the isopod outbreak.
  • Medical Horror: Of the mysterious incurable plague kind.
  • Mercy Kill: Officer Jimson does this to the infected inhabitants of a home he enters. He also kills a fellow officer and the police chief to spare them the same fate.
  • Mother of a Thousand Young / Explosive Breeder: What the bay's cocktail of hormones and steroids from industrial chicken farm pollution has turned the female isopods into.
  • Obliviously Evil: The mutant isopods. They might be killing thousands of victims in painful, hideous ways, but their actions are guided by instinct, not malice.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Homeland Security admits to the CDC that they delayed sending the autopsy reports on the two oceanographers to the CDC due to not wanting to cause any panic.
  • Orifice Evacuation: How the isopods sometimes leave their unfortunate hosts.
  • The Plague
  • Rain of Blood: Donna gets rained on by a corpse laying on the edge of a roof.
  • Suicide by Cop: Some victims in a house beg Officer Jimson to shoot them, which he does.
  • The Swarm: The adult isopods swarm anyone who goes into the water, biting and burrowing into them.
  • Tongue Trauma: The isopods are mutant Cymothoa exigua, also called the tongue-eating louse. Guess what they do to some victims?