Saturday, 1 September 2012

FILM: Apollo 18 (6/10)

Why did I watch it?
Being a bit of a sci-fi and closet horror fan, I was suckered in by the trailer and the interesting premise of a disastrous secret moon landing ending the NASA Apollo missions.

What's it all about?
Apollo 18 is a found-footage type film marketed as being made up of footage recovered from a top secret NASA moon landing in 1974. The Apollo 18 mission is cancelled publicly, however the mission secretly still takes place under stewardship of the Department of Defence. One astronaut stays in orbit while the other two land on the moon and begin their mission of deploying detectors to monitor Soviet activity.

Should you watch it?
First of all, Apollo 18 owes a lot to other found-footage films like Blair Witch and Cloverfield. One difference however, is that the events are shown from a variety of cameras, handheld, inside the lunar module and from cameras on the outside of the module. The editing is very choppy and often switches between the various cameras as you imagine a security guard would. While this never gives the audience a chance to rest as you find yourself scoping out all the shots for any movement it becomes tiresome and interrupting. Coupled with the 'interference' to the footage and the grainy nature of some the shots, its all a bit too realistic but difficult to watch. The same applies to majority of the dialogue, radio transmissions are authentic but not employed with the viewer in mind.

The director creates suspense on occasions by using the vast and isolated yet claustrophobic setting of the moon and also the cramped safety of the lunar module coupled with a cabin fever mentality. I won't deny that on occasions the film succeeded in building uneasiness and made me jump a few times. The technique of using intermittent light flashes to illuminate pitch black environments, in Apollo 18's case moon craters, has been used previously in Saw and is not employed anywhere near as well here.

The main thought I had following the film's ending, which I won't spoil, is how on Earth (no pun intended) was the footage found? Based on this it had me thinking, was the found-footage approach really necessary? Did cost negate a traditional approach? Films like Alien prove that suspenseful sci-fi horrors work minus the novelty.

Will appeal far more to horror genre fans than traditional sci-fi fans.

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