Since it opened last Friday, the new PG-13 horror film The Apparition hasn’t been getting much love from either critics or audiences. When last I checked, the film had a 3% approval rating over at Rotten Tomatoes and it had gotten exactly one positive review. However, if I’ve made one thing very clear in my reviews here on the Shattered Lens, it’s that I hate the bandwagon mentality that runs rampant throughout the online film community. So, instead of immediately focusing on The Apparition’s (many) faults, I’m going to start this review by pointing out a few positive things about this film.
The Apparition is only 82 minutes long and is shorter than both Avatar and David Fincher’s rip-off of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
The Apparation is not in 3-D.
The Apparition is not a found footage film. There’s no attempt made to try to insult your intelligence by convincing you that you’re watching something that actually happened 20 years ago.
Though an adorable (if intrusive) dog dies early on, no cats are harmed during the course of this movie.
The film’s final 10 minutes are actually rather effective and oddly disturbing. Solely on the basis of the film’s final scenes, I would probably see the next movie that Todd Lincoln directs.
Finally, if you’re like me and you enjoy making out at the movies, The Apparition is the perfect film to see. First off, it’s a horror movie and, even though nothing scary actually happens for the majority of the film, you can always fake being scared as an excuse to grab your man. (And, as we all know, sometimes you just have to fake it…) Secondly, chances are that if you two do see The Apparition, you’ll pretty much have the entire theater to yourself. Third, since nothing really happens for the most of the movie, you won’t have to worry about missing anything important while you two are having your fun.
As for the film itself, it tells a story that should be familiar to anyone who has seen Paranormal Activity or Insidious.
Kelly (Ashley Greene) and her boyfriend Ben (Sebastian Stan) are taking care of a house located in a nearly deserted subdivision. We spend the first half of the movie getting to know Kelly and Ben. We follow them as they debate what to have for lunch, as they shop at Costco, and as they play video games. We quickly discover that, together, Kelly and Ben are perhaps the most boring couple ever. Seriously, I have had nightmares about befriending a couple like Kelly and Ben and then having to attend a couples party at their house where all the other couples play Pictionary and want to tell you all the details about the last time they went snowboarding at Telluride.
Of course, a huge part of the problem with Ben and Kelly, as a couple, is that the actors playing them have next to no chemistry. Watching Greene and Stan on-screen, you have a hard time believing that they’ve even known each other for five minutes, let alone that they’re enough in love that they would stay together even after it becomes apparent that there’s some sort of otherworldly demon chasing after Ben as the result of a séance that he attended 3 years ago.
One of the frustrating things about The Apparition is that, occasionally, you can see hints of the movie that it could have been if the script had been a little bit sharper and if the performances were a little less flat. Visually, Lincoln does a good job of highlighting the isolation of the house and, even if he didn’t quite succeed, I can appreciate what he was attempting with the slow build up. But this is one of those films where every effective moment is immediately answered by two moments that don’t work. This is a film that’s smart enough to have Kelly demand to leave the haunted house, just to then reveal that leaving means camping out in a tent that’s been set up in the back yard.
(Even worse, the film later establishes that there’s actually a pretty nice motel within driving distance of the house. You really do have to wonder why Kelly — who was so terrified that she literally ran out of the house in her underwear — would feel safer just because she’s now staying in a tent that’s about two feet away from the demon that’s trying to kill her. Then again, I hate camping so maybe it’s something that I’m just not capable of understanding.)
Finally, if you’re like me and you’re still suffering withdrawal pains from the end of the Harry Potter films, you might want to see this film just for the chance to see Tom Fenton playing the role of Ben’s friend Patrick. Unfortunately, Fenton’s only in about ten minutes of the film and Patrick, sad to say, is no Draco.