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The Apparition starts out on a fine note. A group of students try to make contact with a dead person, to unfortunate results. The opening setup is intriguing and sets the movie off to a good start. Oddly, however, The Apparition immediately asks us to go in a completely different direction.
We meet Kelly (Ashley Greene) and Ben (Sebastian Stan), a couple who live in a barely populated housing addition in the middle of the desert. Both are normally likeable actors, but the chemistry between the two is missing, no matter how many times the script asks them to joke about camping and purchase cute little cactus plants for their new home. Still, Stan does the internally anguished thing well, and those who have seen Once Upon a Time know the man has a perfectly conflicted face. Casting him as the brooding Ben wasn’t the worst call ever, but a level of believability is missing in Ben’s relationship with Kelly, and it is difficult to care about the characters.
Things start to get creepy for Kelly and the worried Ben nearly immediately, but unfortunately, the film doesn’t bother to give us any concrete backstory to help us to understand what is happening until we are more than halfway through the endeavor, although we get plenty of “hints” that mean little. A good horror story will give audiences more setup than a five minute intro clip that shows a supernatural encounter, but in The Apparition, audiences are as blind as our hero when he crawls under the house in search of creepy mold that pops up wherever supernatural activity occurs.
The movie never even explains the really gross mold. Which is a shame, because it’s one of the few truly new ideas displayed in a movie that otherwise doesn’t manage to avoid paranormal horror clichés. We catch Greene in the shower as horror unfolds, and prancing around in impractical underwear. We catch Ben and Kelly trying to escape and avoid the danger. We see technology integrated into the plot to attempt to catch paranormal activity in action. It’s all very scientific.
If you heard Tom Felton is in this flick, he is, but even the complicated kid from the Harry Potter series can’t add to the film. In Felton’s case, it isn’t really his fault. The script forces his character, Patrick, to sputter in and out of the film. He’s the catalyst for the whole flick, but he’s basically the substitute for the intelligent professor or overly knowledgeable priest that would normally pop up in this sort of film to explain the facts.
As if The Apparition couldn’t get any worse, the film misses with some of its detail. It’s futuristic soundtrack is aggressive. The same music pops up in moments of horror and to set the mood just before bad events are to come. It doesn’t fit the barren landscape or the confined corridors of the household central to the movie. Instead, it is more reminiscent of futuristic vehicles snaking their way along an invisible road. The music isn’t bad, exactly, but it definitely doesn’t fit.
The Apparition was crucial for first time full-length director Todd Lincoln, as well as his three main actors, two of which were coming off of major franchise runs. The movie is probably not worth the camera equipment it was filmed on, but it was innocuous enough to hopefully not make a permanent blemish on anyone’s record. There’s still some talent in the muck, but you have to look really hard in The Apparition to find it.
The Blu-ray disc features several bonus features. “The Apparition: A Cinematic Specter” takes a look at the basic premise of the film. Both Felton and Stan pop up to talk about their theories in the film, which happen to be a little different and helps explain how vague this movie is. Joshua P. Warren is the “ghost consultant” in the film, and he shows up to talk about the “legitimate” basis for the paranormal activity in the film. I kid you not.
A few other featurettes are also available for fans, including “The Dark Realm of Paranormal.” If you liked the ghost consultant, this segment is a whole featurette on the author who helped out with the paranormal mechanics. He spits a bunch of baloney, but at least he has a good radio voice. The next segment focuses on ghost stories in “Asheville,” where the ghost consultant wrote his first book. Skip this one, unless you believe in ghosts—no, even if you believe in ghosts. Finally, “The Experiment of The Apparition” takes a look at the initial experiment in the film and how the experiment could be replicated in real-life.
That’s it for bonus features, but frankly, we are probably better off without them—even if you are in to paranormal activity. Since The Apparition comes in a Blu-ray combo pack, the better extra is the DVD copy for ease of watching, although a digital copy is out, unless you want to sign up to be part of the Ultraviolet cloud.
The set isn't horrible, but The Apparition and all of its extras is a bit of a waste of time.
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