‘Apollo 18′ Review

Published 4 years ago by

Apollo 18 Review Apollo 18 Review

Screen Rant’s Ben Kendrick reviews Apollo 18

Ever since the Blair Witch Project debuted back in 1999, found-footage films have been a major source of income for movie studios due to an extremely low budgets and remarkably high returns. For example, Paranormal Activity 2 cost $3 million to make and raked in $177 million worldwide. While larger productions may make a significantly higher net-income for a studio (Transformers: Dark of the Moon), they also carry a greater risk of financial failure (Green Lantern). As a result, low cost found-footage productions, with unknown actors, small crews, and low production values are a no-brainer for movie executives.

As a result, it should come as no surprise that after exploring supernatural subjects such as witches and demons, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood added aliens to the genre with Apollo 18. However, has the found-footage movie genre finally discovered a frontier that it cannot conquer (i.e. make money from) or does Apollo 18 open up a whole new potential franchise?

Unfortunately Apollo 18 proves that not every found-footage scenario can deliver an entertaining time at the theater. Whether due to an overly-long set-up, a predictable plot progression, ho-hum reveals, as well as an idiotic and mostly familiar threat, Apollo 18 fails to build tension, deliver legitimate scares, or introduce an intriguing sci-fi mythology.

Instead, the basic premise of the film borrows from other sci-fi horror space films – and proceeds to execute them in less interesting ways. The story follows three astronauts in December of 1974 who are sent on a top secret mission (Apollo 18) to the moon, in order to deploy a series of transmitters designed to intercept Soviet signals… or so they think. As is apparent in every aspect of the film’s marketing, two of the astronauts land on the moon (while the other orbits, piloting their ride home) and soon discover that something is amiss in one of the craters. As the days tick down on the mission, the situation becomes increasingly unusual – and the astronauts begin to suspect that they weren’t actually sent on a mission to monitor the Soviets, but were sent to the moon to draw out a dangerous threat to humanity.

Apollo 18 Warren Christie Lloyd Owen Apollo 18 Review

Warren Christie and Lloyd Owen in 'Apollo 18'

Cory Goodman (who also penned Priest) had a hand in the script and the dialogue – and subsequent performances are adequate. However, found footage movies aren’t about believable acting or relatable character interactions – they’re about captivating tension and cathartic scares. There’s no doubt that on paper, the Apollo 18 story sounds like a sure-fire success at the box office – however on the screen, the film fails at nearly every single element that made prior found-footage stories enjoyable.

First thing: Surprises. There are next to no surprising developments in the film – with the exception of how surprisingly uninteresting the alien threat turns out to be. Nearly every would-be jump-scare is telegraphed by an overly-familiar set-up: i.e. a close-up shot of one of the astronauts snoring. As a result, there are very few legitimately unpredictable moments in the film, and even when the “action” picks up, Apollo 18 has already failed to build substantial tension – so the closing minutes mostly bump along as expected. The scares, and over-arching storyline, will be especially flat for anyone who has seen one of the Apollo 18 trailers – which give away nearly every would-be shocker in the film.

Second thing: Fear of the unknown. As mentioned, the alien threat in the film is especially lazy. Unlike similar films, which successfully educated audiences on some unknown entity such as the paranormal (before subsequently unleashing their respective “monsters”), the filmmakers do very little to establish any kind of mystery or mythology around the film’s antagonist – withholding everything but face-value info. At no point in Apollo 18  does an “expert” or more informed character crack open the core set-up to ground the flat series of events in something more interesting. There’s something to be said for a film that throws the audience into an inexplicable scenario and creates tension by showing the unfolding events through equally clueless characters; however, that only works when there are worthwhile layers of mystery to uncover. Instead, when it comes to Apollo 18, viewers are forced to watch a series of unscary and uninteresting events unfold, without ever becoming privy to a worthwhile context.

Apollo 18 Footage Apollo 18 Review

The found footage from 'Apollo 18'

Third thing: Competent camera work. By far one of the least successful aspects of the film is the actual implementation of the cameras that recorded the found-footage. As in similar films, heavy suspension of disbelief is required (i.e. the camera is, for some reason, the most important thing imaginable – even when you’re running for your life); however, unlike similar films, the camera work in Apollo 18 is boring at best – and more often than not, flat-out nauseating. Where the scares in a film like Paranormal Activity play out through static shots of creepy events unfolding, Apollo 18 tends to skew toward a collection of blurry and/or frenetic images that, with the exception of a frame here or there, show nothing of interest while presenting the empty story in the most uncomfortable way imaginable.

As a result, it’s nearly impossible to recommend Apollo 18 to anyone but the most staunch found-footage genre fans – as the film fails nearly every requirement of a tense and enjoyable time at the theater. If nothing else, the movie stands as a stark example that not every premise is ripe for the found-footage treatment. That said, it’s hard to imagine Apollo 18 will not be a money-maker for the studio - even though the film cost nearly twice as much as Paranormal Activity 2 (a “whopping” $5 million) - meaning, despite being one of the sloppiest films of 2011, we’ll probably be seeing an Apollo 19.

If you’re still on the fence about Apollo 18, check out the trailer below:


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Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick - and let us know what you thought of the film below:

Apollo 18 is now playing in theaters.

Our Rating:

1 out of 5

TAGS: Apollo 18
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  1. The movie wasn’t scary. It’s that simple. It was an interesting idea, but never built up any tension. Apparently, the virus or sickness that the astronaut got was supposed to be horrifying, but instead, it was boring. And if an astronaut was infected with something on the moon, our country would bring him back, in order to study the (living) thing that he was infected by.


  2. I’m a SciFi fan, and loved PA, so I thought I’d love this film. I was wrong. The review is right on, it goes nowhere, and reveals nothing.
    And A for context and F- for execution.

  3. This was just bad. I want the time I spent watching it back.

    • hi so y do people ask for time back after something stuppid, i know its a figur of speck but really did they make you watch it. i dont think so. ya it was a prety dumb movie i mean really we can get on the moon but cant make a light that stays on. and ya if u want the time back for it all i can recomend is stop watching any movie ever made cuz there are only a few good ones and fthere are over 20 made a year. so u are sol. on that and how much time did u wast posting this kinda pointless

  4. hellooo…?im gonna rent it..is it worth?

    • No

  5. I’m about 1/2 way through this movie right now and I can’t imagine that it will redeem itself in the second 1/2. I agree with all the comments about too long of a build up, not scary, moves too slow and reveals nothing. I’m going turn it off and play Solitaire instead.

  6. I feel like people are being too tough on this movie…I love bad, cheesy, painfully unscary horror movies…for some reason it’s fun to sit there and roll your eyes at the predictable developments, laugh when the character walks into an obvious death trap and then say “that was the worst piece of crap ever!”

  7. WORST movie I have EVER seen in my life !!!!!!!!!!!!

    • people like you piss me off. just cuz this movie did have stuff blowing up and supper bad a$$ grafics people dont like it. if u acualy pay atention to the story of it its a good one. i gess people just dont like to think and more.

  8. Half the time you couldn’t see what was happening and you never really see the aliens unless you pause the movie and look especially the big ones

  9. I had wanted to see this movie when it was out in theaters. Well we finally rented it tonite. It was soooo incredibly boring, it wasn’t even slightly scary. Easily one of the worst movies I have ever seen! If you want to see a great space flick, rent “Apollo 13.” Save yourself 86 minutes of your life you’ll never get back!

  10. This is one of those movies that make money only because people want to see just how bad it is.

    • not really its not that bad one thing iv seen people like movies were there is no posible way its real. and ya this one looks more real then others. even thought its fake. it was ok but most people wont like it cuz it dosn’t have all the saspence and action of movies now a days. but reall people it is a movie quit complaeing about it its not going to make it better.

  11. Well, to all that think this movie is no good, I’d like to state my opinion:
    Today I saw this movie (rented) and I thought it was good.
    Apparently it “does not” add suspense, but this is how you can tell this found-footage movie to be one that was made to be believable.
    Paranormal activity 3 . . . we all know this is fake, the unnecessary suspense and surprises around every corner does not help to add at least a little fear into my mind.
    Apollo 18 on the other hand, I enjoyed watching.
    With hardly being able to see the creatures this adding a fear of the unknown. And with there being a definite ending, we know that no other terrible follow-up movies will follow concerning the main characters (which most movies have and which are also usually never better than the first!). So, overall, this horror is on my list of good movies, whether other people like it or not. Unlike paranormal activity, with this movie you get used to (fairly friendly?) with the characters and are concerned with what will happen to them. Now, you may think ‘why would they carry cameras with them even if they’re gonna die? Or in trouble?’ then I think this is obvious.
    There are a lot of people that think the government keep all sorts of things from them. They were sent on a mission, which they later found to be (SPOILER)

    A sort of test mission. The astronauts were the guinea pigs in this project. They had cameras on them, so they filmed everything as according to the so called ‘mission’ they were given. But, as they uncovered the truth they knew, that they were in trouble and that the people that they had trusted had deceived and lied to them. Now knowing this, wouldn’t anyone else with sense also carry on filming as if they got back they could show the public what they had found. What the government are REALLY like etc. And for there to be a justice brought to these people etc. again.
    This is a good movie, I don’t understand why people don’t like it.

    • because all people care about it face stuff and even though this is not real it looks more real then most. people are just stupid. or something i been thinking is the first guy did like it for lagit resions then everyone after that was o he didnt like it neather did i. another ex. of what happened here, im gana ware red today…… now everyone it wareing red. if u acualy watch the movie insted of judging the grafics or the plot i gess is the word. its a good movie.

      • ops fake not face

  12. Blu what are you smoking?

    • I’m not smoking anything. I just know a good movie when I see one. Sorry if you don’t like it, but at the same time I don’t see why . . . well, your opinion I guess.

  13. I thought it was dull and predictable, but my main issue was: if this was the last trip to the moon, how did the footage get back to earth?