Michael Bergeron
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Apollo 18

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The found footage genre film has become vogue after Blair Witch, and indeed works best with the vein of both documentary and horror movies. So when a studio pushes the concept with months of teasers and a healthy budget we get Cloverfield, a serviceable and fairly well done film.

Apollo 18 takes the concept a step further by pretending there was a doomed and covert mission to the moon, kept secret by the Department of Defense. Apollo 18 opens with no credits but a simple couple of sentences that inform us that the following movie was edited from over 80 hours of footage. Obviously we (or the Russians) went back (Apollo 19?) to recover the footage.

As Apollo 18 unwinds I had the feeling I was watching outtakes from For All Mankind, the brilliant documentary made from NASA archival footage (by Al Reinert). The set design and special effects are so well done that Apollo 18 should find an appreciative audience that consists of scientists and horror fans alike, or maybe a combo of the two. The rabbit in the hat trick here is making Apollo 18 look like the kind of stuff we’ve seen broadcast from the moon.

Without revealing too much let us say that the astronauts (well cast with non-familiar faces) find proof of another country landing on the moon as well as evidence of a strange kind of extra-terrestrial life. Apollo 18 has a definite beginning, middle and chilling ending. A lengthy credit roll shows how many effects companies were used to achieve the seamless story. Is Apollo 18 scary? Yes at times, and absolutely more engaging than the recent Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.

— Michael Bergeron