7 October 2011 | Argemaluco
Not very satisfactory, but moderately interesting
I think that the current trend of the "pseudo-documentaries" in the horror genre obeys to two main factors: first, it allows the addition of a stylish variation to all those rancid and stale formulas which seemed worn by such a repetition (like the masked killer, haunted house, "torture-porn", etc.), which acquire a varnish of innovation when they are disguised as "true events". And in second place, this trend allows the making of movies with an intentionally bad manufacture, something which is simple when there are not too many available resources. After all, why worrying about the illumination, the cinematography or the "mise en scéne", when they can simply put a group of amateur actors in front of the camera and call that "documentary"? Sure, there have been some pseudo-documentaries which took advantage of the opportunity to create something interesting (like REC and Lake Mungo); but most of those films take that as an excuse to lower the standards of the genre even more (Paranormal Entity might be the clearest example). I think that the film Apollo 18 is on some intermediate point between both extremes, because even though I found its screenplay absurd, repetitive and occasionally a bit tiring, it generally kept me moderately entertained because of the realism of its "verité" aesthetic and the attention to every detail shown on its production.
The screenplay from Apollo 18 is something like an hybrid of Alien, Sunshine and Moon, even though with all the fantastic elements reduced in order to increment the realism from the story. That might be the main reason why the film did not leave me very satisfied, and it even bored me a little bit during its most "exciting" moments. The trailers of Apollo 18 promised a horror film, but the truth is that it lacks of the necessary impact in order to provoke an emotional or even visceral impact. Even the "scares" feel forced in the documentary context (not to mention the difficulty of accepting the fact that the characters keep filming when any sensible person would have dropped the camera in front of the first sign of danger). Another problem is that the performances feel bland and not very credible. It was undoubtedly a good decision to pick unknown faces not to ruin the "realistic" premise, but I think they should have picked actors with more talent and charisma.
Having said all that, I have to give Apollo 18 a slight recommendation because of its solid recreation of the lunar mission. The version of the Moon presented by the movie might not be totally faithful from the scientific point of view, but it is more than enough for us to accept the premise and visually transport us to the satellite we had only seen in brief clips from the NASA and in sci-fi movies which had only showed various stones on a sandy field. I know that I should not be giving a movie even a slight recommendation only because of its special effects, but they are so good in this movie that I am going to make an exception, also stating the fact that the movie achieves a few good moments of tension during the first half. However, I regret the fact that the visual talent from this film could not adorn a better (and more terrifying) story.