August 3, 2011
Review - " Apollo 18 " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Directed by: Gonzalo López-Gallego
Starring: Warren Cristie, Ryan Robbins, Ali Liebert, Lloyd Owen,
Michael Kopsa, Andrew Airlie, Kurt Max Runte
First off, if you hated "Paranormal Activity", you'll probably hate this as
well. "Apollo 18" has a novel concept to bring to the found-footage
genre of horror, but what bothered me was Apollo seemed to be more
of a cheap money grab to capitalize on the "paranormal activity" crowd
because 80% of this movie is exactly what happens in "Activity" -
The premise involves three astronauts, Nathan Walker, John Grey, and
Benjamin Anderson, who are sent to the moon in 1974 on a secret
mission to set up special devices that would help the United States
detect incoming missiles from Soviet Russia. Through several reels of
footage, we witness their mission including their arrival, sample
collecting, and the setting up of the missile detectors. Then some
strange things begin to happen.
While searching around their landing site, they discover tracks that
lead to a Russian spacecraft and a deceased cosmonaut. On top of
that, their flag suddenly disappears and equipment begins to
malfunction. It’s not long before they figure there may be another
cosmonaut there with them, or quite possibly, something else
there that caused the death of the Russian and is now coming for them.
"Apollo 18" has a 3 man cast which means traditional hack and slash horror won't work but with such a small case you need
to develop characters and define relationships between each other and define their relationships with the viewer as to, "why
should we care whether you live or die?" With the exception of 10 minutes of dialogue and banter between each other at the
beginning of Reel 1, I don't have any feelings (positive or negative) regarding the characters.
Apollo 18 suffers from a problem that all films
in this genre do. Quite simply, it’s very dull for
most of its runtime. Whenever a filmmaker tries
to make a film like this, in an attempt to make
it seem real, they make much of it a mundane
experience, leaving any possibility of
entertainment until the very end. This is a
problem that has lingered in these films ever
since Blair Witch.
In that film, we have to wait through the
mundane onset of the project for almost the
entire film before anything interesting happens.
For Paranormal Activity, we have to sit through
the mind-numbingly slow parts of a haunted
house story before anything interesting
happens. Likewise, in Apollo 18, there is a vast
majority of its runtime spent lulling the audience to sleep with a plot that feels like it’s at a standstill as things slowly start
Perhaps this is simply unavoidable for the sake of trying to pass off the footage as real, even though the
audience goes in fully-knowing that it’s not. There was one jump scared that did get me but the movie doesn't develop
tension and whatever scares were in this movie were spoiled in the various trailers. I did enjoy the graining 70's style camera
view and at times the camera looked like it was rolling inside a dryer but added a little bit of realism to a pretty bland movie.
The film itself is quite short running under 80 minutes, but even so, with most of it focusing on rather dull
events, coupled with the banality of the genre, it feels much longer than that. It does begin to pick up at the
end as things begin to go out of control, but it’s far too late by this point to salvage the film.
There’s a reason this film was moved
around among several different release
dates and was not screened for any
critics prior to its release. Apollo 18 is
another dud in a genre that should have
stopped before it got out of hand.
Hopefully, there will come a day very soon
where filmmaker will realize that this is a
genre that just doesn’t work very well, and
that the whole “found footage” craze was
and has always been as doomed as their
subjects usually are.
I HATED "Paranormal Acvtivity" - I didn't
'hate' Apollo 18 but I did dislike it