When I heard that “Apollo 18,” the latest attempt at “found footage” horror/sci-fi, was categorized with the likes of “The Blair Witch Project” and “Paranormal Activity,” I can’t say I was very excited to see it. Both of those other movies had their moments, but as a whole, they left a lot to be answered by moviegoers.
However, I read a review that claimed the last 10 minutes of “Apollo 18” are the most exciting of any action movie all summer. If my memory serves me correctly, critics made similar claims about “The Blair Witch Project.” Either way, this statement had to be put to the test.
The story follows three astronauts to the moon on a top secret and strictly classified mission sanctioned by the U.S. Dept. of Defense.
Much of the opening material is very slow moving, just as a trip to the moon would be. The problem with that is, it’s awfully drab if you’re not the one in the driver’s seat. The only attempt at action for the first half of the movie is an occasional moon rock sprouting legs and moving a few feet.
As the plot thickened, I found myself feeling sympathetic for these guys. Not even their families were allowed to know the truth about this mission, so the indication is that this so-called footage is the only real proof of what happened up there. And on top of that, when things really start to go wrong, the setting alone creates a sense of fear.
An astronaut stuck on the moon doesn’t have a whole lot of options if things turn bad in a hurry, and it isn’t exactly the most welcoming environment.
In my opinion, that is what made “Apollo 18” a little better than predecessors like “The Blair Witch Project” and “Paranormal Activity.” It wasn’t just another ghost story like all the others; it had its own unique setting, which added another layer of fear to the story. Although in this case, it was needed, because the general story wasn’t very frightening.
One of the biggest problems I had with this movie was the undeniable resemblance between the alien creatures featured in “Apollo 18” and the ones seen in the beginning of the classic horror/sci-fi film, “Alien.” Sure, the “Apollo 18” versions were creepy little guys, but the whole “alien-inside-me” thing has been done before; try something different.
When one of the astronauts played by Lloyd Owen has an encounter with the aliens, he just loses it and starts screaming. But after he regains consciousness, he has no recollection of anything happening at all. So, do these aliens emit some sort of amnesia dust?
Come on. What even happened? Then again, this seems to happen a lot with these types of movies; for example, the end of “The Blair Witch Project.”
Despite all that, it honestly wasn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen.
Overall, the story is a combination of both an alien encounter in an unforgiving environment, and the government’s eventual mistreatment of this “classified” information.
One of the astronauts, Benjamin Anderson played by Warren Christie, gave a pre-flight interview, in which he stated, “Would’ve been nice to tell my wife … (and) Ryan, my boy. Would’ve been nice to tell him his old man’s going to the moon. Would’ve loved to bring him a souvenir, maybe a moon rock.”
“Apollo 18” wasn’t horrible, but it definitely wasn’t great either. I think that found-footage movies have the potential to be good, but most of them fall short, including this one.
The production was exactly what one might expect from a found-footage film based in the early 1970s: grainy, gritty cameras that were shaky during much of the movie. Maybe some people are into that, but it just makes me nauseous.
For this one, I’d say hold off until the DVD release.