Apollo 18 (2011)

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The “found footage” horror movie, a particular style that has risen in popularity since the concept was used so brilliantly over a decade ago now with The Blair Witch Project, has found itself in a bit of a quandary. There’s no denying that effective use of the concept can raise a movie and make it into something brilliantly new and, often, terrifying (with Noroi and [*Rec] being the best examples). However, many people are growing tired of the whole idea, many viewing it as simply an excuse to get something made without the need for decent production values and/or cast members. The strange thing is that these movies often cost just as much to fake “reality” as standard films and I, personally, think that there will always be a chance for the right movie to once again come along and knock our socks off. Apollo 18 is not that movie though it’s not a terrible film.

The premise of the movie is simple enough, as is often the way with movies of this type. Three astronauts went up to the moon and events took such a strange turn that this information was hidden from the public until the tapes becoming public just now. The fantastic, teasing tagline puts it this way: “There’s a reason we’ve never gone back to the moon.”

Director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego does well in the way the film is shot – mostly static cameras set up on the moon, viewing the interior of the craft and a few helmet-cam shots. Everything is covered, with good reason for recording everything (and the material being directly relayed back to NASA), and even the static shots make for an eerie sight as viewers wait to discover what the central ideas of the movie are.

The cast are okay, though the necessity of the spacesuits makes it more difficult to identify with each one individually until the second half of the movie. Warren Christie, Lloyd Owen and Ryan Robbins all do just fine and make it easier to suspend disbelief as they go through the astronaut motions in a professional and believable manner, as far as I’m aware.

Brian Miller and Cory Goodman’s screenplay is one aspect of the film which I found lacking. There’s just not enough going on in the first half to maintain interest before the developments that arise in the second half. And those developments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . well, you’ll either go along with the film or start to absolutely hate it. I quite enjoyed the main ideas but also found myself wishing that the film had something more to it. I watched right to the end thinking “is that it? Surely that’s not all there is to it” and then found that I was wrong to want for more. There was no more.

A decent little film that won’t win over any detractors of the “found footage” style but that should please those who fancy something a bit different, even if it is far from terrifying.

DIRECTOR: GONZALO LOPEZ-GALLEGO
STARS: WARREN CHRISTIE, LLOYD OWEN, RYAN ROBBINS
RUNTIME: 86 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: USA/CANADA

Film Rating: ★★★☆☆

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