Friday, September 2, 2011

A Reel Review: APOLLO 18

APOLLO 18 is a thinly veiled BLAIR WITCH project in disguise; with the only difference being the setting: the Moon. It is presented through the “lost footage” technique; working more as a part of the story rather than a gimmick. For good measure, archival footage of the space race is thrown in, just to keep things real.

History tells us that Apollo 17 was the final manned mission to the moon. However, a year after the supposed final flight, NASA and the Department of Defense sends a covert mission. After landing, the astronauts begin experiencing strange happenings, including loss of contact with Earth, damaged equipment, a conspiracy, and something deadly hiding in the rocks.

APOLLO 18, despite the heavy realism courtesy of the lost footage, closely follows the blueprint for nearly every horror movie ever made: Arrival. Discovery. What-the-hell-happened-here. Shitstorm. Recovery. Shitstorm. Tragedy. The film lacks any real depth, but makes up for it in atmosphere and well-timed scares.

Atmosphere and tension is where APOLLO 18 soars. Director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego does an excellent job of utilizing the lights and shadows of the Moon, along with capturing the claustrophobia of the living and working conditions in space.

The “lost footage” technique feels like it would get old, and it takes some getting used to, but after a good half-hour it becomes clear that the story would never have worked as a straight-up movie. The various cameras the astronauts have working for them offer great opportunities for tension, and Lopez-Gallego uses them perfectly. Perhaps the neatest trick Lopez-Gallego does is to just hang on a static shot of the exterior the moon lander; the audience is drawn in and strains for something to move. Sometimes nothing does. Sometimes. Lopez-Gallego also manages to make a shot of the full moon, a view that we’ve all seen a billion times, seem creepy.

Lopez-Gallego gets decent performances out of the whole three actors that he works with here. Each brings a lot to their parts, and it’s always convincing.

The finale is a little incredulous, but goes a long way in explaining why we never went back to the Moon. APOLLO 18, despite the realism, comes off as a neat little horror/sci-fi flick that is well made and enjoyable. The story is light, but everything surrounding it makes it worthwhile.


No comments:

Post a Comment

A few rules:
1. Personal attacks not tolerated.
2. Haters welcome, if you can justify it.
3. Swearing is goddamn OK.