The Washington region has had its share of horror movie settings. In Georgetown, stone steps to M Street were forever etched into memory by the classic demonic thriller, “The Exorcist.” Witches rule west of Frederick in “The Blair Witch Project.” Flying saucers and a big robot visit the Mall at lunchtime in “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”
Now comes “The Bay,” a scary Barry Levinson movie that stars the country’s largest inland estuary.
In the film, however, our beloved Chesapeake Bay is evil and abused.
It is so polluted by pesticide runoff from the lawns of McMansions in places such as Loudoun County and by steroid-filled chicken feces from mass poultry farms on the Eastern Shore, plus other yucky stuff, that it somehow produces a parasitic isopod that ends up eating the lungs, hearts and kidneys of the humans it infects.
According to the film’s trailer, the government tries to prevent panic by confiscating social media and videos. There are bunny-suited specialists from the Centers from Disease Control attempting to figure out what’s happening. Of course, there’s lots of screaming and anxiety, as well.
How can this be? We had been told the bay had been improving! A report last year quoted the U.S. Geological Survey saying that 70 percent of tests sites had showed improvement for nitrogen and phosphorous over the long term and 40 percent of sites showed improvement for sediments. Streams feeding the bay, however, showed consistent problems.
States in the bay watershed have been meeting for years to try to adopt some kind of comprehensive approach limiting pollution from “non-point” sources, meaning farm fields and lawns, instead of waste pipes from factories or power plants. Of special concern to them are oxygen-depleted “dead zones” that show up in hot summer months.
And there have been biological oddities in the bay watershed. A few years back, we were introduced to ugly snakehead fish that hung out in the Potomac and then walked on land.
Does this make for a giant petri dish breeding parasitic isopods capable of eating human flesh? Let’s just say that according to “Mother Jones” magazine, “The Bay” was shot in 18 days at a cost of $2 million.
Barry Levinson told Mother Jones, the docudrama “isn’t easy to watch. It’s very creepy.”