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‘Apollo 18,’ Disappoints the Sci-Fi and Horror Fans in Me

Posted by: | September 6, 2011 | No Comment |

Moviegoers saw the product of exaggerated shock value, a clever take on amateur cinematography and months of patient anticipation this weekend. No, I’m not talking about “Shark Night 3D.

Photo Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

“Apollo 18 fails to stay with you because, like the cratered satellite on which it’s set, it has no atmosphere,” says Entertainment Weekly’s Keith Staskiewicz about Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego‘s English-language directorial debut, “Apollo 18.”

It’s hard to believe that a found-footage horror film about “the real reason” America never sent another man to the moon can possibly flop. After such success from similar films in the genre like “The Blair Witch Project,” “Cloverfield” and “Paranormal Activity,” expectations were high for this seemingly fascinating story about three astronauts who were sent on a classified mission to the moon only to discover (the hard way) why the mission was classified in the first place.

Commander Nathan Walker (Lloyd Owen) and Captain Benjamin Anderson (Warren Christie) are sent to the moon on a top-secret mission sanctioned by the U.S Department of Defense in 1972 to spy on the Russians by planting ballistic missile detectors, but little did they know there was another kind of danger waiting for them.

Sold as a compilation of lost footage from the supposed mission, “Apollo 18” focuses too much on shock value and aesthetics that it loses sight of what makes a great horror film; plot. Without a strong storyline and character development, you can’t make anything believable, and if you can’t make anything believable, you can’t scare your audience.

Staskiewicz expresses a very accurate depiction of the film’s main flaw; it has no atmosphere. While the found-footage cinematography is relatively well-done, the plot is far from believable, and the film is much too short, standing at an hour and 26 minutes, the first half of which is extremely slow and stagnant. It’s as if everything happens all at once, with no rising or falling action. Just climax.

“Apollo 18” was a valiant effort, but it failed to deliver. With a little more plot development and a better balance between build-up and climax, it could have been a masterpiece. For those of you who are still interested in a good hour and a half of in-your-face scare, here’s the trailer:


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