I’m in the mood to write this morning and having just published my review of Senna, I thought I’d strike while the iron’s hot and review the film I’ve seen most recently – Apollo 18.
What’s This Film About? (spoiler free)
Apollo 18 is a horror film that ‘explains’ why man never returned to the Moon.
As is the current fad with horror movies like the Paranormal Activity and Rec franchises, this film is presented using ‘mockumentary’ footage. We’re supposed to believe it’s real.
Basically Apollo 18 was a ‘secret’ mission to the moon and the astronauts and their rocket & landing capsule are wired up to record everything that is
happening to them and thus to beam it back to earth.
While on the moon, the astronauts realise they are not alone up there…
Or to put it another way, it’s Paranormal Activity In Space
Thoughts – I’ve Been Tricked Into Seeing A Shit Film By My Brother
Before going to this film the other day, the reviews seemed to be pretty good. IMDB even had it as an 8.o. Not that that’s any indication of a good film – it gave 127 Hours a good rating, and I don’t think I need to go over that again. But most of the time you can trust it.
But a mere 4 days later, the score on IMDB is down to 6.0 and the film only gets a meagre 18% on Rotten Tomatoes with the summary being “A boring Paranormal Activity rip-off that feels long even at just 90 minutes”. Meanwhile, Metacritic only gives it 24/100.
How could opinion on a film slip so badly in the space of a week?
Thinking about it now, I don’t recall actually seeing any of these good reviews. My brother just told me about them. Now, as anyone who knows my brother will attest to, he’s an absolute sleekit cheapskate bastard. He wouldn’t pay out to see a film unless he’s been given 8000 different assurances that it’s really worth it.
Surely he wouldn’t recommend we go to a crap film? It doesn’t make sense?
But he’s also a Paranormal Activity fanboy, so I’m not sure either way.
The Film Itself
So I thought when I started writing this review I was going to be going against the grain with what I’m about to say, but apparently not.
For you see, Apollo 18 really is overly long at 90 minutes. It drags, it’s dull and it’s predictable.
Is it scary? No, but I’ve said before that horror films don’t really scare me anyway. The aforementioned film – Paranormal Acivity – was a load of codswallop as far as I was concerned. Oh no! They can hear a knock. Oh my god, a ghost has dragged him out of bed! Big whoop.
In this case, since it’s so crap you probably won’t go and see it anyway, the horror aspect is spiders on the moon. There, I said it.
But what’s scary about that? Well, nothing really. What I find is that ‘scary’ is often a completely manufactured concept. What you see doesn’t scare you at all, but by playing a very loud, short and sharp noise at the same time as ‘the scary bit’ comes on screen, the director manages to give you a fright. But it’s not the same thing.
If the film had been played with Benny Hill music in the background you’d end up laughing.
The problem is, this is a film that has nothing else in its locker other than the ‘scare’ factor. Since it doesn’t even have that, it’s got nothing. And at 90 minutes long, there’s just too much ‘dead’ time. It’s two men in a capsule on the moon, and since it’s presented as a ‘mockumentary’ they try and make it as real as possible by having ‘natural’ conversations – i.e. nothing interesting. It’s hardly one of the great two-handers, like the episode of Eastenders where Ethel dies!
There’s also a few things that don’t make any sense. Without going into specifics, I didn’t think a man could survive on the moon without holes in his space suit or – in the absence of a space suit – a hole in the glass of the launcher. Apparently they can.
I’m trying to write more, but there isn’t really much plot to speak of or comment on.
And actually, that’s my problem with the concept of the mockumentary. If it’s done well then great, but I think it’s a gimmick that is exploited by less talented screenplay writers to carry their inch-deep script over the finish line. As I said, I thought Paranormal Activity was boring drivel. It didn’t even try and have a plot. Rec was fantastic, and that did have a plot. Go figure.
To try and end with at least something positive, they do do a good job of the visuals of the spiders crawling inside the guy’s spacesuit, and the make-up is good for when one of the astronauts falls ill.
But here’s the best thing about the film; it features the song ‘And You And I’ by Yes, very briefly.
That’s a great song, but when a 16 second clip of it is the highlight, you know you’re watching a dud.
Still, it was better than 127 Hours.
Should You Go And See Apollo 18?
What do you think?