Saturday, September 10, 2011

Review for Apollo 18

A cast of lesser-known actors adds to the indie feel of this unexpectedly entertaining sci-fi film.  Through creative use of filming this becomes an atmospheric depiction of a top secret lunar landing gone horribly wrong.

Decades-old found footage from NASA's abandoned Apollo 18 mission, where two American astronauts were sent on a secret expedition, reveals the reason the U.S. has never returned to the moon.


This is a movie that mostly relies on emotions rather than straight-out visual scares.  The movie is filmed in such a way that it gives the feeling of being closed in.  The use of 8 mm camera work makes for a somewhat grainy quality and a jumpiness that adds to the small-scale feel.  As the astronauts (played by Warren Christie and Lloyd Owen) in the module on the Moon start becoming paranoid, so too does the audience.  The tension builds quickly once they land and never lets up as more signs point to a huge government cover-up.  Power and radio outages soon start occurring and add to the fear and isolation.  Once you finally catch a small glimpse of the enemy you're ready to crawl out of your skin.  Along with overwhelming feelings of claustrophobia comes feelings of isolation and hopelessness with their only assistance coming from the lone astronaut (Ryan Robbins) orbiting the Moon.  But just when you think you know the outcome, the final ten minutes completely change things and lead to a jaw-dropping conclusion.

The actors do well given the small-scale of scenery and create a very believable sense of paranoia and terror without going over-the-top.  This is a movie that relies on atmospheric subtleties and the building of emotions.  It's very old-school in the scare department and relies on each individual's emotions.  It's reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project but with a more satisfying and thought-provoking conclusion.  It's not sci-fi at its best, but it's better than I expected given its low-budget and lesser-known actors.

My rating for this is a B.

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