September 5, 2011
Director: Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego
Release Date: September 2, 2011
Killer Bugs from Outer Space!
I’m a fan of the “found footage” subgenre. There’s something innately exciting about the mystery associated with supposedly “undiscovered” film that’s raw and unrehearsed. This, of course, is a misnomer, as the footage in question is about as artificial as it gets.
Here’s the skinny: film from a purported eighteenth Apollo mission was discovered and it contains undeniable evidence of extra-terrestial life on the Moon. At the start, audiences are told that the original footage has been “edited” so as to create a cohesive understanding of the events that took place. What unravels is a tale about three astronauts who are duped into landing on the Moon by the Department of Defense. They’re told that their mission is to set up super-sensitive spy equipment that will monitor Russian operations from an unprecedented vantage point. Of course, that’s not why they’re really there, and soon the trio realizes they’re little more than expendable test-subjects that NASA has used to study the unknown creatures lurking in the blacked out craters of the satellite’s surface. It’s not terribly original, but it’s certainly a solid enough premise for a sci-fi/horror chill-fest.
But there are problems with Apollo 18. For starters, it’s boring. Even though it clocks in at a brisk 88 minutes, I found myself yawning much too consistently. A lot of this, I think has to do with the way director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego decided to dedicate large swathes of the film to simply panning across a blandly framed lunar landscape. Granted, the actual footage from previous Moon-landing excursions almost exactly mirrors what we see in the movie, but there’s nothing particularly scary about the sudden appearances of killer rocks who abruptly roll off-screen. That’s right—the malevolent force that’s trying to snuff out a set of American heroes are none other than space spiders who are able to camouflage themselves so they looks like impact debris.
If I’ve ruined the movie for you, I apologize. But there are so many illogical developments associated with these improbable bad guys that it warrants some direct exploration.
From a purely biological standpoint, one has to ask: how are these things even alive? I mean, they’re completely exposed to space and apparently have no other viable food source. I don’t mean to imply that they’re trying to eat our human protagonists. In fact, all we ever learn about them is that they are like giant lice who like to burrow into peoples’ rib cages There’s also a development regarding the discovery of a cosmonaut’s rotting corpse (this is glimpsed in many of the previews), and one has to ask: how does something decay in space? There’s no air, right? I’m sure someone will say, “he was being eaten by the space bugs,” but, again, there’s no evidence of this.
Apollo 18 isn’t a complete loss. It did make me “jump” from time to time, and the juxtaposition associated with existing in both claustrophobia and almost literal infinity is frightening.
But then there’s everything else about the film. It’s just… well… far too vacuous.
out of 5