Kelly (Ashley Greene, best known for playing Alice in the Twilight movies) and Ben (Sebastian Stan, looking like the non-druggie version of Nick Stahl) have just moved in together into a planned community condo, and appear to have a happy, affectionate relationship. God, I’m boring myself just talking about this movie. Basically, in the 70s some scientists attempted to contact their deceased colleague by believing in the ghost, and apparently it worked. Fast forward to young genius Patrick (Draco Malfoy) attempting to replicate the experiment. It works, and now the spirit is out and wants to claim the trio by sucking them into its realm because…well…actually, I’m not sure. I just realized there’s no reason why Kelly would be in danger. Anyway, the spirit starts small by opening doors and moving furniture, and continues by growing mold, killing a dog and making cracks in the wall. Their attempts to run proving futile, the kids have to figure out a way to get rid of the spirit.
To be completely fair and honest, there are a couple of well-constructed, tense scenes. One of my favorites involved the characters hearing laughing and thumping downstairs, leading to a rather exciting sequence with some very nice sound design. I’m that one asshole friend that likes to pick apart movies for their technical aspects, and one scene that comprised a long take of Kelly looking around with the Spirit Detect-o-Meter, or whatever. I will also not complain that Ashley Greene is rather cute and she actually does a decent acting job here. Writer-director Todd Lincoln shows slivers of promise here and there, so I’ll keep an eye on his later work.
Of course, those mildly interesting bits comprise only a tiny bit of the overall film. The rest is a shoddy mess of poorly thought-out scenes, nonsensical and disconnected ideas, and straight-up poor filmmaking across the board. The biggest issue is that it feels like a collection of ideas with a quick story whipped up to accommodate them. By that, I mean the movie sets itself up for scares, ruining any chance for an organic feel to the horror. For example, a weird cocoon thing appears on the ceiling, but after it is taken care of, nothing similar is ever seen or spoken of again. A weaker version of the entity can apparently make stuff explode, but that too is never touched on again.
Brmrbmrbm, Mmfrebmfmfm. Mumbmr.
This steamrolls into horrible, over-manufactured dialogue, shallow characters, and situations that are irritating in their nonsense. Excessive exposition is forced through the dialogue, and lines that aren’t necessary pop up everywhere (we hear Patrick’s voice echoing from a machine, explaining his experiment. “Patrick’s journals,” says Ben. Wow, really? Thanks, Ben!). It also takes been over half of the movie to tell Kelly that he knows about this spirit and thought he was protecting her by holding back. In the face off all the weird stuff happening, he still thought that. Idiot.
It’s really hard to take some parts of this movie seriously. I almost left the theater about five times due to being overcome with a fit of giggles at a particular scene, line of dialogue or bit that intended to be scary, but came across as goofy. My favorite scene in the movie had me laughing so hard people were giving me cross looks. In it, Kelly sees some scariness in the laundry room, and immediately proceeds to nail the door shut. Upon doing so, she leans against the door and turns around to find that the spirit has somehow changed things so that Kelly is inside the laundry room. Frantically, she turns around and tugs on the door to get out. But guess what? It’s nailed shut! It was the fact that Kelly actually tried opening the door after nailing it shut a mere ten seconds prior that really just killed me. In another scene that also had me in hysterics, the little neighbor girl suddenly appears next to Kelly’s car. She presses up against the window and says, completely seriously, “Your house killed my dog.” It was kind of hilarious. Kelly and Ben flee to Patrick’s house, where he has built a sort of cage that blocks out the spirit. It takes literally half of a minute for the device to not work.
Fmmmmbmmmm mmmf vmmmmm.
Apparently, this ghost is every housewife’s worst nightmare, because most of what it does is move furniture. You heard me right. It starts with the dresser moving a few inches. The worst of it comes toward the end, where furniture is on the ceiling! On the stairs! In the closet! Everywhere! It likes the furniture in the wall! In the sink and down the hall! It does not like that upright chair! It wants to throw it everywhere!
Have you ever heard the term, “wearing one’s inspiration on one’s sleeve”? Well, The Apparition takes the skin of its inspiration and wears it as a sleeve. I’m going to wake up tomorrow recovered from intoxication and realize how stupid that metaphor is, but fuck it, I’m done. It’s almost embarrassingly easy to spot the movies that this film cherry picks from: there are sprinkles of nearly every major horror film of the last decade thrown in here. From Paranormal Activity to Pulse to a misplaced, can’t-miss-it scare ripped straight from The Grudge and a serious case of Insidious envy, this movie frequently feels like a piecemeal assembly of other horror films, borrowing ideas and scenes from anywhere it can find them while offering up very little of its own invention.
***SPOILER*** here, the next beer is for the ending. It’s terrible and rushed. Worse, the idea behind it is kind of great, and exactly what I was hoping for to salvage the film. Apparently, some amount of time passes between the death of Ben, Kelly’s flight to the forest, and Kelly’s emergence from the forest, because when she does, the world has ended, there’s no one to be seen, and everything has a nasty film grain. Kelly wanders into a Costco, which for some reason doesn’t have the giant store sign that every Costco has, and wanders the aisles until she finds the camping display. She climbs into the tent and closes it, and then gives up, sobbing as hands reach around her to take her away. What’s that? You say that this scene was in the trailer, and it’s the poster? You’re absolutely right. The final shot of the film is the main promo piece for the film. The bigger issue, however, is the sudden onset of the apocalypse with little explanation (if in fact that is what it is), squandering the single best idea in the entire film.
frmbmmmrfm trmbmprrm knnmphbrmmmm. Fmbmfmbmmm.
Rounding out the six-pack is the unforgivable butchering of psychology. I was originally going to go soft on the movie, then I re-watched the trailer and remembered that this movie’s premise revolves around creating a fucking ghost by thinking really hard and believing in it. It’s like the horror version of Tinkerbell. What’s more, they figure that they can banish the entity by reversing their brain waves and sending it back to where it came, or something. I don’t know. I stopped caring after the movie decided to have the characters set up emitter rays that could absorb brain waves and create a barrier, or something. Whatever. Don’t watch this movie.
The Apparition is one of those movies that gets worse and makes you angrier the more you think about it. For each element that you can say, “Hey, at least they tried,” several more appear and remind you that they probably weren’t trying at all. It’s a sloppy film filled with stupid, uninteresting characters and unoriginal ideas that make it frustrating and boring to watch. The requisite beers should make things more fun, particularly the aforementioned laugh-inducing scenes, but the movie is as a whole rather irritating and I can’t recommend it.
mmmmuuuuff fluuuuuum fmmmmmmmm.
Take a Drink: whenever you are reminded of how stupid these characters are.
Take a Drink: for every horror movie you can think of where the heroine runs around in her underwear (this one counts).
Do a Shot: every time you can name a stolen scene from another film.
Take a Drink: every time Kelly starts crying.