Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, along comes this gruesome 'fake-umentary' from Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson to deliver the nastiest environmental warning since Jaws. It's the fourth of July, and the celebrations are in full swing in the Maryland 's Chesapeake Bay... until a mysterious bug suddenly has locals and residents alike breaking out in rampant blisters, boils and lesions. But, as the footage from CCTV, police cameras, home videos, mobile phones and a local news crew reveal, the nightmare has just begun.
According to Hollywood veteran Barry Levinson, the seemingly idyllic Chesapeake Bay is 40% dead, thanks to parasitic sea lice that eat fish from the inside (and can grow up to two feet) and bacteria so nasty they can kill people within 24 hours.
It's unlikely Barry got his information from the Maryland Tourist Board. But as a concerned native of the area, the director takes a break from the more sedate and generally upbeat fare for which he is known (like Good Morning, Vietnam and Rain Man) to draw our attention to the facts... by turning them into an appropriately fishy, found-footage fiction.
So unlike most entries in the genre, it actually has a point.
The chaos centres loosely on a trainee TV reporter who, sent to cover Chesapeake's Independence Day celebrations, suddenly found herself way out of her depth.
One minute she's having a fascinating chat with teen beauty queen Miss Crustacean, the next she's looking on in horror as a crab eating competition turns into a vomiting contest.
But panic really sets in when half the population suddenly falls victim to a flesh-rotting outbreak that makes necrotising fasciitis look like nettle rash.
Other footage reveals the cause and extent of the horror, from the grim discoveries made by a pair of doomed biologists a couple of weeks earlier to the government's furtive efforts to turn the place into the ultimate tourist trap.
Practically everyone we see is doomed - visitors, locals, cops, doctors, schoolkids; even the mayor, though he has to take at least some of the responsibility.
Why? Because the excrement from a million steroid-boosted chickens, a useless desalination plant and a 'small' nuclear mishap have turned the water into bacterial soup and created a race of mutant, gut-munching isopods.
How these primeval eco-terrorists managed to synchronise their attack almost to the minute is nothing short of extraordinary. It's like something from a Hollywood movie.
Indeed, abounding with unlikely coincidences and thunderous musical cues, it's obvious that this is no roughly assembled bit of reportage.
But with deft editing, a little gallows humour and enough yucky effects to make any stomach lurch, Levinson's multimedia presentation proves the ideal way to get a message across: up close, personal and snappy as a Great White shark.