In an extraordinary turn of events here we have a found-footage horror that avoids most of the pitfalls associated with the sub-genre resulting in a pretty entertaining movie!
Rather then utilising the usual tired tropes within, here the found-footage elements are made up of news reports, aspiring reporters capturing the July 4th festivities, police car dash cameras, CCTV, text messages, face time on mobile phones and conversations with the CDC.
It’s a breath of fresh air in comparison to the usual constant hand-held camera shots that make little sense when the user is in peril yet continue to film.
This complied footage was confiscated by the US government to try & hide a devastating outbreak that occurred in the seaside town of Chesapeake Bay. The way in which the footage is shown really makes it seem like a real event, something that just never happens in these types of movies.
The waters around the small seaside town have a shocking amount of toxicity in them caused by the dumping of huge amounts of chicken shit into the bay. The town makes its money in chicken farming but to speed the growth process up those in charge have been feeding them steroids among other drugs.
The high levels of toxicity create a mutant breed of ‘Cymothoa Exigua’ that start infecting people who have arrived to celebrate July 4th.
We see these events unfold from several points of view, several side stories such as the two oceanographers who discover the mutant parasite, the doctor working at the hospital who ends up reporting the outbreak to the CDC & the teenage girl using FaceTime to talk to her friend.
It is really well done with narration used at just the right time to help build tension for the next scenes. There are only a few moments where it slips into found-footage type but these are still way more passable then most.
The story being told is pretty terrifying & it’s built up really well, the confusion felt by the authorities is shared with the viewer. It’s kept ambiguous for as long as possible to make the reveal all the more horrifying.
Once the big picture begins to become clear it’s even more terrifying to see how little action the CDC & US government take to try & save the people in the town. They basically abandon it leaving those inside forced to try & avoid infection, something that is near impossible considering it’s in the water!
There is an ecological lesson running through the movie, something that might put others off but it’s still wrapped up in a gorgeously nasty & gory horror bow. It’s only let down by the final 20 minutes or so that struggle to sustain what’s came before. The finale surrounds a particular couple that return to the town from a boating trip unaware of what has occurred in the town.
Their reactions is hardly the most exciting end to a film that has had moments of genuine terror. It’s a smart story that drip feeds it’s information creating a wonderfully dark atmosphere that stays with you long after the movie has ended.