Apollo 18 Review
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This year, movies have taught us a lot about lunar landings. Thanks to Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, we now know that the first moon landing was actually a part of a larger plan involving a crashed alien robot spaceship. And now, thanks to Apollo 18, we also know why NASA really stopped sending astronauts to the moon. After seeing the found footage sci-fi thriller, I suspect that they may have just lost interest. I know I did.

Supposedly edited down from newly-discovered, decades-old footage, Apollo 18 reveals a top-secret lunar landing that was ordered by the Department of Defense after NASA reportedly cancelled all future Apollo missions.

Three astronauts are secretly called in to handle the mission—reportedly to collect more rock samples, as well as to place a number of devices that will help the US keep an eye on Soviet activity. But shortly after the two landing astronauts arrive on the moon, things start to go wrong. First, they experience a few glitches in their equipment, making it difficult to communicate with Mission Control. But when their exploration leads them to a deserted Russian ship—and a dead cosmonaut—they begin to fear that they weren’t told the whole truth about their mission.

The idea of a horror movie on the moon—and, better yet, a found footage horror movie on the moon—is an intriguing one. But that’s about as far as it goes for this less than thrilling thriller.

The story starts out slowly, taking just a few minutes to introduce the situation before heading out into space. There’s a whole lot of talk and not a lot of action as the astronauts make their landing and start wandering around on the moon, spouting off some kind of astronaut techno-babble. Despite all that talk, though, audiences don’t really get a chance to know the characters, which makes it even more difficult to care about them once they start to face the moon’s particular brand of horrors.

Meanwhile, the slow build-up will give audiences plenty of time to wonder why these astronauts aren’t bouncing around on the moon or floating around in their ship, like other astronauts in other “real” footage do. Instead, they plod along, looking like they would if they were, for instance, just stomping around on a soundstage.

Eventually, the horrors begin to unfold—but, by then, it’s just too little, too late. There are a few tense scenes—and a couple of moments that might make you jump. But instead of a terrifying lunar adventure, Apollo 18 is flat and bland and not especially interesting.

To make matters even worse, like most found footage films, Apollo 18 is deliberately grainy and distorted. But while it’s supposed to make it feel authentic, it’s really more of a distraction. The blinking footage and strangely angled shots mean you’ll spend more time trying to figure out what you’re looking at and less time getting wrapped up in the story.

It may have been built on an interesting concept, but Apollo 18 offers little else. The footage is distracting, the storytelling is slow, and the horrors just aren’t all that horrifying. It’s a found footage thriller with a disappointingly weak gravitational pull.

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