Directed by Todd Lincoln
Written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Todd Lincoln, The Apparition follows an almost-too good-looking young couple named Kelly (Ashley Greene) and Ben (Sebastian Stan), who begin to realize their secluded home is being haunted when a string of frightening events leaves them both frightened and retreating from their property once things start to spin out of control.
As it turns out, the evil that has shown up to torment Kelly and her beau is related to a college parapsychology experiment gone wrong involving Ben and his long-time friend Patrick (Tom Felton), who conjured up an entity using psychic energy which gets stronger the more its intended prey fears its presence. It’s soon up to the trio to try to stop the entity, but as they all start to succumb to their worst fears, the apparition grows stronger, and they find themselves being tested in unimaginably horrific ways.
With a PG-13 rating, you can pretty much imagine the intended audience for The Apparition so suffice to say this writer was a bit underwhelmed by the film as a whole. None of the scares truly go as far as I was hoping they’d go (almost like Lincoln was held back), and Greene and Stan aren’t nearly as engaging here as we’ve seen them in other projects they’ve been involved with. Felton is also grossly underused (much like he was in Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and the story never goes too deep either, which is a shame considering how intriguing the concept of the initial parapsychology experiments are.
That’s not to say that The Apparition is a total dud; Felton, despite his limited screen time, once again delivers some stellar work, and Lincoln and his DP Daniel C. Pearl (who shot the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre for Tobe Hooper) have crafted a beautiful film that was shot on 35mm, giving The Apparition great depth and vibrancy as well as a nice old-school feel to it that really demonstrates why it would be shame for 35mm to disappear completely.
You just don’t see many movies on the big screen anymore that feel like The Apparition does, and that is definitely something to appreciate about Lincoln’s approach for his first time at the helm.
There are also a few clever moments in The Apparition that demonstrate Lincoln had some engaging ideas as a storyteller; nothing I’d want to give away because they venture into spoiler territory so all I will say is that he managed to cook up a surprise or two in the third act that were rather surprising even for me and made clothes hangers scary again (and definitely not in a Mommie Dearest way either).
But as a whole The Apparition is clearly a film meant for the teenage date night scene, which is totally fine – those audiences deserve some scares, too – but hardened horror fans should keep that in mind before buying their tickets. The movie isn’t scary and plays it way too safe, making for an underwhelming experience for this horror fan and a film I’d recommend as a rental more so than something worth plunking down $12-$15 a ticket to see. Mainstream audiences will probably enjoy The Apparition, but I’m looking forward to seeing what Lincoln does his next time at the helm when hopefully he won’t have to work within the confines of a PG-13 rating.
2 1/2 out of 5