MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
After the original success of “The Blair Witch Project” and then a decade later “Paranormal Activity,” the found footage film has become the new black. Some of these are quite effective (including the two aforementioned films as well as “Quarantine” and its original form as “[REC]”). Other times, it can be tedious (such as the dozens of direct-to-video knock-offs like “Atrocious”).
“Apollo 18” takes a slightly different approach by also working as a period piece. It’s assembled from clips of a moon mission from the early 70s, after NASA had stopped the public program. In “Apollo 18,” three astronauts are sent to the moon to discover there’s something living on the surface. As they find themselves embroiled in bizarre happenings, things get dangerous, and it appears they might never make it home.
I really appreciated the out-of-the-box thinking for this film, considering it exists in a relatively tired genre. Growing up as a young child in the 70s, it’s got a weird sense of nostalgia for me, and there’s a real authentic look of the film. It’s a slow burn, sure, and if you’ve seen the trailers they can be both misleading and filled with some spoilers. But as a simple thriller to take home on video, I actually enjoyed it quite a bit.
The biggest problem in this film, which rips apart its authenticity, is the fact that the leads are recognizable faces from television and movies. Similar to how “Paranormal Activity 2” shot itself in the foot by casting a lead who was recently seen in high-profile shows like “24” and “Sons of Anarchy,” “Apollo 18” gives us a hero I’ve seen in “October Road” and currently on the Syfy series “Alphas.”
Still, if you can push past the suspension of disbelief, it’s a pretty eerie ride. It’s not perfect, and it works better on DVD and Blu-ray than it did in the theaters, but I was pleasantly surprised with this low-key thriller.
The Blu-ray comes with a feature commentary by the director and editor. There are also quite a few deleted and alternate scenes on the menu. Finally, there’s a handful of alternate endings, which blow the found footage idea out of the water (as does the actual ending of the film itself, if you think about it), but they’re fun to watch nonetheless.