Directed by Todd Lincoln
Distributed by Warner Brothers
”Your house killed my dog.”
An Oscar please, or at least a nod, for the little lady who managed to speak that line with a straight face. That unintentional bit of cheese is perhaps the single greatest moment in The Apparition, an otherwise deadly dull supernatural thriller. I’d been looking forward to this release for some time, mostly due to filmmaker Todd Lincoln’s insistence in various interviews that he wanted to craft a smart, serious horror film that relied more on suggestion and mood. And while those aspirations are admirable, the resulting film does not bear out his lofty intentions.
The Apparition follows Kelly (Greene) and Ben (Stan), two twentysomethings in the process of moving into their new home. All is well for the young couple, until strange goings-on begin annoying, concerning, and then downright frightening them. Strange noises, doors that open on their own, bizarre fungi, and, yes, a pooch’s strange death are only a handful of the problems our heroes face in what they believe to be a haunted house. That is, until a revelation concerning Ben’s past sheds light on their situation and leads them into a confrontation with what can only be called…an apparition.
…and then Draco Malfoy (Felton) pops by to over-explain the film’s villainous presence, and yet somehow only manages to make muddy waters even murkier.
Overstaying its welcome even at a scant seventy-three minutes (not including the nine minutes of padded credits), The Apparition is little more than a dull hodgepodge – a “greatest hits” of paranormal horror flicks, with moments and ideas culled from The Entity, Poltergeist, The Grudge, and The Ring, among others. Sadly, the movie brings nothing new to the table, shoehorning in images from better films with little in the way of rhyme or reason. Worse still, characters behave in entirely unbelievable ways in service to the plot, the “scares” are entirely random and ineffective, and there is practically no tension throughout the film’s running time, save for a decently executed moment involving killer bed sheets.
Yes, you read that correctly. Killer bed sheets.
The movie does have a few things going in its favor, though. For one – the photography. The movie is beautifully lensed on film, which is something I hadn’t realized I’d missed so much in the past few years from my low-budget genre flicks. While the filmmakers could have chosen to simply shoot digital and tint the entire film a sickly blue or green afterwards (as seems to be the rage with the kids these days), they took the time, effort, and money to produce a damn good-looking film. I applaud them for that.
In addition, the cast isn’t terrible, either. While I’m no fan of the Twilight films, I can admit that Dawn Breaker Ashley Greene acquits herself well enough here, giving a perfectly decent performance as a sympathetic and believable heroine. Well, believable when the writing allows her to be.
Pats on the head must also go to Sebastian Stan and Tom Felton, who do well with their respective characters. Stan’s lead could have been little more than the blandly handsome hero he was likely written as, but the actor infuses a bit of depth and edge into his performance, lending his character a bit more weight than was likely necessary. And with his purely expository character, Felton does his best at making pure information dumping seem vaguely interesting. It’s a pity that his appearance is little more than an extended cameo, as he manages to transcend the writing and make his few minutes onscreen count (before SPOILER getting offed in an unintentionally hilarious sequence that will have you scratching your head even while gut laughing).
Warner Home Video brings The Apparition to disc with a beautiful, sharp 1080p transfer and rock solid DTS-HD Master audio track. While this film doesn’t deserve your time, the quality of its presentation cannot be argued. In addition to the movie itself, we have a handful of featurettes on the Blu-ray, each featuring real-life ghost hunter Joshua P. Warren. The featurettes are brief, but cover enough ground on both the making of the film, and the spooky background that influenced the film’s story. These will probably appeal most to paranormal enthusiasts, likely more than the film itself.
Ultimately, folks, this one is easily a skipper. While it’s not as offensively awful as, say, Piranha 3DD or Area 407, The Apparition is little more than a half-baked exercise in imitation and tedium. Look elsewhere for your spooky fix.
1 1/2 out of 5
1 1/2 out of 5