Note: Contrary to my traditional practice of omitting spoilers, you may very well find a few revealing details in this piece. So, if you haven’t seen this picture, and aren’t out to have me ruin it for you, it may be a good time to head back to the home page and read something else
Now here we have a film that’s been panned by too many critics to count, severely chastised by thousands of viewers and fixed with the moniker of “Worst Found Footage Film in History” by the vast majority of those to view the film. I myself gave this one a mention in my “Worst of 2011” piece; I’m actually surprised I gave the flick a second viewing (I did however dedicate myself to giving a handful of stinkers a second chance today), to be completely truthful. Interestingly enough, a second viewing (technically it’s actually the third time I’ve seen the film, though I fully disregard my first attempt, as I was… extremely far from sober at the time; damn you for chanting my name endlessly Mr. Samuel Adams!) afforded me a unique opinion of the film.
Why I disliked the film initially: Upon first (time I can remember) viewing, I really felt as though the performances in this feature were… ethereal and surpringly distanced from the severe impact that this wild scenario would invoke were it true. I also found the pictures pacing to be insanely slow, which created the idea that there wasn’t much effort put forth during shooting. To make things worse, the “big reveal” was not only disappointing, it seemed as lazy, anticlimactic and predictable as one could imagine. When weighing this found footage feature against films such as The Blair Witch Project, Lake Mungo, Paranormal Activity and Cloverfield, I really deemed it miserably uninspired, and a waste of funding that could have been invested in a much more entertaining project. I suppose it’s fairly safe to assume that I absolutely hated the picture.
Did I change my mind about the film upon reexamination? Absolutely, in fact, my opinion of the film changed so drastically after reviting it today, it’s fairly difficult to put into words. Where I ever manufactured the idea that the film was “lazy” or uninspired is completely beyond me; I’d say the same thing in regards to the public’s general perception of the film, but I was once there myself, so it’s not imposble to fathom someone desping Apollo 18. Just the same, I was extremely wrong, in just about every sense imaginable. There’s so much spirit in this flick that I’m still baffled by my own initial ignorance (or was I mply blind?).
Apollo 18 offers forth everything horror fans have been demanding for a decade plus: a creative story with genuinely eerie sequences, stellar performances, and best of all, some really cool practical special effects (not every ngle shot is practical, obviously, but this one leans on hands on work far more than typical computer abuse as we see so often these days). In fact, now that I’ve had the chance to truly dissect the film, I’d actually label it one of the finest FF films that I’ve personally seen. That’s not to say the film is fault free, there are a few hiccups in the system, but as a whole, it’s certainly well thought out, and surpringly well written (by feature length debuter, Brian Miller). Conspiracy theorists should cherish a film of this nature, as it certainly has the capacity to raise questions in the minds of the naïve.
I extend genuine respect and praise to Warren Christie (who happens to be the spitting image of profesonal fighter, Mauricio Rua) who portrays Capt. Benjamin Anderson and Lloyd Owen who tackles the role of Cdr. Nathan Walker. These two are issued the burden of carrying the entire film on their shoulders, and they do a stunning job of bringing a sense of realism to the picture; these two travel the emotional gamut, and shine from every angle. Again, I’m forced to question my initial thoughts: these two aren’t distanced from their characters, for 90 minutes, they are their characters!
Finally, I’ve got to address the concluon, and the revealed culprit of conflict. You’ve likely read (on at least one occaon) that the picture’s antagonists are nothing more than moon rocks. The truth is very, very far from that. First and foremost, they’re not mply rocks, they’re extraterrestrials capable of camouflaging themselves as, you guessed it, rocks. These beasties are alive however, and believe me they’re creepy as hell, reminiscent of something straight out of Ridley Scott’s original Alien. Furthermore, the depth of depravity reaches beyond the creatures themselves, and focuses in on NASA and the government as a whole: these poor bastards were sent to the moon as guinea pigs. They were essentially fed to these creatures so that we, down here on comfy old earth could examine and study them, their habits and precisely what makes them so threatening. Again, this is material meant to whet the appetite of the conspiracy theorist, and while I don’t fit that bill, I do find the film remarkably intriguing (even my 10 year old daughter was pretty mystified by the picture).
Follow Matt Molgaard on Twitter