(Spoiler alert- just in case)
Rarely do two horror movies open on the same weekend. Times are rough, and I have a feeling a decision of where to spend the money will have to be made by many of us. So it is Apollo 18 vs. Shark Night for horror fans? I’m a sucker for shark movies but after talking to many of you, it seems clear more of you are interested in finding out what happened to the astronauts. So I passed on seeing killer sharks (for now) in order to discuss what happened on the moon.
As many of you know, in the 60’s and early 70’s the U.S. and Russia engaged in a race to the moon. For the U.S., the last official mission to the moon was Apollo 17 on December 17, 1972. Something happened after that point to cause the government to order a secret mission to the moon a year later, Apollo 18. Three astronauts are sent into space with two landing on the moon. What the audience sees in this movie is edited footage of what happened on that unofficial mission to the moon.
The movie begins with a few bullet points telling the audience it is about to see edited footage from this mission. Almost immediately this peaked my curiosity. They must be showing us this for some reason right? Why else would you edit it? Who is the intended audience, and why are they showing this footage? Did someone steal this footage and release it? Did the government actually release this? That seems unlikely with how the movie ends. Speaking of the end, the only answer to those questions is that, well um, it is a movie dummy! How could I be so silly to think there could be anything more to it? Here is a video of a secret mission… watch it!
After the bullet points, the movie quickly introduces the astronauts who are going on this mission. It mixes footage of them with their families, and interviews of them talking about going on this mission. There is just enough background information, and the family is shown in order to get you to feel sorry for the astronauts if something bad happens to them. Then it is off to space, good. Overall, the movie moves at a quick pace as it is just under 90 minutes long thanks to it being “edited” found footage.
Now for the moment everyone is waiting for. What the hell happens to the astronauts on the moon? That is the draw for the movie as everyone has a guess. Is it aliens? If so, what do they look like, and what do they want from the astronauts? Do the astronauts get infected with something? If so, how did they get infected, and are they going to bring that back to Earth? Being this is the reason you are going to see this movie, I don’t what to give away too many specifics, but I will say it is a little bit of both.
So while trying to decide if I really like this movie or not, I can’t help but think about one of the major complaints about horror movies these days. You guessed it, remakes! Horror fans seem to be dying for original movies, which is one reason why I think some of you lean towards wanting to see this movie instead of killer sharks. Yes, neither movie is a remake, but we all know what happens in the shark movie. The question for Apollo 18 really becomes: can it be original enough to please horror fans?
On the surface the movie does have a lot of originality to it. There already have been plenty of found footage movies, but the originality here is that this is footage of events on the moon. They score points for originality with that, and how the footage is “edited.” I haven’t seen a found footage movie where the footage is edited, but there might be one out there somewhere.
Once the mystery of what is happened on the moon comes to light, a closer look reveals some similarities with movies horror fans have already seen. One of the astronauts becomes sick, and there is a scene where a camera catches him shaking his head. They make it appear as if he is almost possessed. Lets just say it is similar to something you may have seen in an exorcist type movie. Not long after that, there is a scene where the same sick astronaut is standing by the make shift bed of his fellow sleeping astronaut. Can you say Paranormal Activity?
It is not all bad. They do a decent job of building some suspense, and tension. Once they know something is out there, it becomes an adventure every time they have to leave the ship. As far as the alien, some people are going to hate it, and others may like it. I guess you could say the creativity is in the disguise, but not in the overall alien. There are some scare moments, which may or may not get you, and the acting isn’t bad. I prefer not talk about the ending because it appeared they didn’t have a good idea of what to say to conclude the movie.
We have seen astronauts battle aliens, sickness, and the possibility of being stranded in space before so it is up to Apollo 18 to give the audience something new. The overall idea of edited found footage from the moon isn’t bad, but there is just something else missing from this movie. For me, it is the question of drawing that line between this being a movie, or edited found footage for an intended audience. If they would have come up with a meaningful reason behind why this footage is being shown, I might have found the movie a little more interesting. The movie moves quickly, and has enough suspense. However, some scenes might remind of you of other horror movies, which take away from the originality of the movie. I give this movie 2.5 pools of blood, and now it is time for some sharks!