Review: Apollo 18
PLOT: After Apollo 17, NASA had abandoned their plans to bring astronauts back for another stroll on the moon. Yet in this “found footage” horror flick, there was another mission. Apollo 18 made the same attempt but with far less successful results. Sure they walked on the moon, but they found that they were not alone.
The use of “found footage” in horror can be quite effective. Whether it is some cannibalistic tribe, a vengeful witch or a ghostly visitor, filmmakers can create something chilling. Then there is something like APOLLO 18. It is the reason why we never went back to the moon… well, at least that is what the filmmakers want audiences to believe. And thanks to a few interesting ideas, they could have possibly it off. The effort looks and feels like a realistic period piece, right down to the barbecue that all the astronauts have with their families before the ill-fated mission. It sure looks like the Seventies.
APOLLO 18 is the fictionalized trip to the moon that was so uber-top secret only a few individuals knew of its existence. After Apollo 17, NASA had cancelled Apollo 18 and 19 and the promise of sending another spaceman to make another giant leap for mankind. However, when three astronauts are called upon to go into outer space, the audience is made clear that not even their families knew.
We are also made aware that this trip to the moon will feature a bunch of motion detector cameras which thankfully zoom in on anything moving around up there. What do they find when they arrive? Well, let’s just say that whatever they come in contact to is so unscary that you’ll find yourself thinking of the glory days when you could scream in space and nobody could hear you. ALIEN this is not. Hell, this makes GALAXY OF TERROR seem frightening.
The best thing about Apollo 18 is the atmosphere itself. There is a constant barrage of strange noises for the two men sent down to collect data and plant cameras upon the moon. The bizarre feedback and constant glitches in the film create a mostly plausible mood in this outer space horror flick. Even the actors, including Warren Christie and Lloyd Owen are believable enough to elicit some sympathy when the space crap hits the fan.
This was an intriguing idea to an extent and director Gonzalo López-Gallego offers a few jump in your seat moments, even if they feel slightly forced or obvious. Whenever the motion detector camera goes off the zoom closes in on what looks to be a rock moving around. It is hardly scary let alone interesting. Sure the idea of having a ton of cameras to film all the eerie goings on makes the “found footage” angle plausible, but the insistence on giving too much away fails to deliver in the creep factor.
When the mystery is fully explained you can almost feel the sigh from the audience. And sadly, the what and how and why are so preposterous that it is hard to conjure up any kind of feeling other than a groan or two. The real kicker is when they tell you what happens before the end credits. Will you find yourself shivering with fear when you turn out the lights after this flick? Maybe if the big bad was actually big, or even bad but neither is true. This could have been a dark and foreboding period piece but it unquestionably misses the mark on the fear factor.
APOLLO 18 is a cleverly marketed and feature which begs some questions about our space program and the reasons for the trips made to outer space. However, the answers the filmmakers give are utterly preposterous as are the things that go bump in the night. Much like the astronauts and their lunar module, the film gets progressively weaker as the hour and a half comes to a close. Even with effective atmosphere, a couple of jump scares and a spooky premise, Apollo 18 simply falls apart in the end.