I have seen so many movies that really are ‘not as advertised’ or rather while a film has an intriguing concept, the filmmakers somehow fumble everything they have built on for some reason. Haunted house horror movies have always held a certain charm for me, and despite reports that director Todd Lincoln’s “The Apparition” had bombed in the box-office, I decided to give it a look. After all, box-office receipts often do not reflect the quality of a film and when it comes to horror, it all comes down to tastes. Boy, well, I am doing all I can not to be snarky in this review, but sometimes, box-office receipts can reflect the quality of a movie.
The film begins with something that it declares as ‘real footage’ when sometime in 1973, six people conducts a paranormal experiment that makes an attempt to summon something from the other side. This experiment has become known as “the Charles Experiment” and this is where four college students (Tom Felton as Patrick, Julianna Guill as Lydia, Luke Pasqualino as Greg and Sebastian Stan as Ben) are now trying to replicate that same experiment with a more high-tech approach. Something goes wrong and then we fast forward to the present, we find Kelly (Ashley Greene) and her boyfriend, Ben (yes, that “Ben“) shopping, eating and finally coming home to a new subdivision investment house owned by Kelly’s parents. The house is new with no history, but soon, strange things begin to occur, which is odd, but Kelly and Ben quickly realize that they are not alone. Something from Ben’s past had manifested itself and now, with Patrick’s help, they must do what they can to get rid of this malevolent entity.
I have to say, the film’s concept is pretty promising, but sometimes even a cool idea does not become an actual cool horror film. I am not really sure how something with potential could be messed up this way, but I guess it is safe to assume that writer/director Todd Lincoln is somewhat to blame. The scares in the film resemble something from “Paranormal Activity”, Japanese horror flicks such as “Ju-On” and then just for good measure, borrows the concept of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s “Kairo” and “DeadWaves” but ends up more similar to the disastrous remake “Pulse”. I don’t mind horror films that borrow from established successes, since it often can lead to something good. The issues with this film is that the screenplay and the direction just felt very lost around its premise.
Ok, “The Apparition” is just so busy trying to build scares for showmanship rather than actually building on suspense. Yeah, the film does have some good touches as with the neighbor’s dog, some moldy and degenerating plants, an interior designing ghost and it does look decent when it tries to manipulate shadows. But the thing is, the story barely had enough depth or ideas to keep up its flow. The film is also incredibly short at 82 minutes thankfully. It touches on certain devices and then builds on them, but then the way it builds on them ends up surprisingly very dull. It fails to gain a momentum in generating either drama or suspense to get me invested.
I have a feeling that the film had been rewritten numerous times. The way it flowed in the first 15 minutes gave me the impression that it wanted to be a slow-moving affair the way it took its time in exposing Ben and Kelly’s relationship. The direction certainly took its sweet time shooting scenes where Ashley Greene had to wear short shorts and walk around in panties, she also had quite a few scenes looking sexy bending over and moving in a flirty manner, and then, this all proves to be a set up for some weird occurrences. I immediately lost interest in the characters and I waited for something creepy to happen, and when it does, it doesn't build on the groundwork that it was seemingly trying to establish.
I would not be so quick to judge the performers for their acting ability because of a script that was much too shallow to even have a paper boat float around. The acting is very tepid. Sebastian Stan is pretty dry while Tom Felton was just around to talk about the film’s exposition. Greene and Stan also struggled to form any kind of chemistry which made it pointless to even feel for their plight. The script was just so bad, that Ashley Greene began to look and act like eye candy or some kind of sex object. The film did not have characters, but merely people acting in roles that took all the personality from them.
Potentially good ideas were in “The Apparition” but good ideas do not equal a good movie. I have no idea what went wrong in this film, perhaps their budget were cut or maybe it was re-written many times? I am all for a horror film that channels the unknown, but what is really unknown here is how a movie this bad ever made it into production. Hey, COSTCO does get a lot of screentime. “The Apparition” is a skipper, unless you get your jocks off seeing Greene in panties and short shorts (she does look pretty good).
Star Rating: The ads for The Apparition tell us it’s about how believing in supernatural events can make them real. The finished film, on the other hand, never once says anything about belief or non-belief. There’s only a lot of generic talk about summoning some dark, evil force from “the other side.” Already, we have a huge problem, namely that people will pay to see a film founded on a premise conjured up by a studio marketing department … more