By all counts, this movie should have worked as a Sci-Fi horror. The idea was intriguing enough – stranded astronauts discovering the darker mysteries of space (hello, Alien), a claustrophobic and isolated setting for our intrepid heroes to develop a wonderful plethora of disturbing psychological symptoms (a la Blair Witch), and an audience curious to know more, thanks to the viral campaign that drew over 2 million hits on Youtube.

Following the footsteps of The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield, Apollo 18 is the latest film pieced together with “found footage” of events that supposedly happened in real life. In fact, Bob Weinstein, head of Dimension films, was so intent on keeping the illusion of realism that in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he was quoted to have said, “We didn’t shoot anything. We found it. Found, baby!”

Centered around 3 astronauts (played by Warren Christie, Lloyd Owen and the largely absent Ryan Robbins) involved in a secret Apollo 18 NASA space mission, the movie was told through documented raw footage taken by the spacemen during their expedition to the moon in 1974. Being “real life”, the film is of less than stellar film quality, meaning shaky handheld cameras and grainy frames.

Unfortunately, the problem with “home video” movies, such as this recent release by director Gonzalo López-Gallego, is that the film contains more plot holes than there are craters on the moon (See what I did there?). Many essential questions were left unanswered: we never know why they were sent to the moon in the first place for example, and every time a character turned a camera on to record “data” of their daily activities, most of the footage consisted of the moon’s unremarkable rocky surface and the astronauts eating or sleeping, because that’s all people do in space shuttles.

However, the good thing about having the story told entirely from the point of views of our protagonists is that the audience receives no outside contact other than from the astronauts themselves, which adds to the isolated feel of the movie.

Yet sadly, for all their attempts at verisimilitude, it’s also difficult to sell the reality of the story when the dialogue is continually riddled with predictable lines like “There’s something else out here!” and “Something’s moving!”

In addition, the slow-paced monotony and frustrating lack of character development made it hard for the audience to connect to whatever that was unfolding on the screen. The scares were few and scattered, the tension weak and forgettable. The few glimpses we get of the “aliens” were too blurry to make anything out, and the payoff at the conclusion was abrupt and underwhelming.

There are better examples in the science fiction/horror genre, but if you’re not feeling too picky about a thriller, then this film might work for you.

Movie: Apollo 18
ating: 2.5/5
Opens: Sep 29
Duration: 86 min
Language: English
Age Rating:
PG -13
Science Fiction, Horror, Thriller
Director: Gonzalo López-Gallego
Cast: Warren Christie, Lloyd Owen, Ryan Robbins