Someone once said that there is a science to making a good horror movie. However, when they said it, I am sure that Todd Lincoln’s The Apparition isn’t quite the science that they had in mind. So where did this seemingly infallible premise meet an untimely demise? Let’s start with where the director should have started, with the story.
It opens to a séance being conducted in the 1970s to contact a fallen comrade, an operation henceforth referred to as The Charles Experiment. All went seemingly well, that is until a picture taken after the fact shows a very ominous figure looking on from the back. Cut to a few years later – without a prompt to let us know how much time had passed or even the significance of the event – and we are shown a science team attempting to reenact the events of the séance. Using a device that will amplify and multiply their thoughts, they are able to more or less open a door that allows something to come from somewhere. There are a lot more specifics to exactly what they are doing, but if the movie doesn’t bother to go into any details, why should I?
That is one of the most frustrating aspects of the film; it wants to go into details about what is happening or why. There are some moments when it is that mystery that adds to the suspense and, vicariously, the scare factor. However, there are other times when it is that knowledge of what is going on that is truly terrifying. To know that there is a specter looming in the forest, waiting for you to be at your most vulnerable before you are taken. Or that there is a demon merely waiting for you to fall asleep so that he can kill you as you’re defenseless. But in The Apparition, they cannot decide whether to give the audience background information or just leave it as “something is going bump in the night.”
The pacing of the movie leaves much to be desired. For the first 30 minutes of the film’s 88 minute runtime, we feature Ben and Kelly, played by Sebastian Stan and Ashley Green respectively, as a happy couple. We watch as they shop at Costco, say hello to the new neighbors and go about their normal routine. But Ben is starts acting suspiciously as though he is hiding something. There is just a bit too much time with long shots that aren’t particularly frightening that are stretched to abnormally long lengths.
A lot of action and horror movies are accused of killing too many characters before the audience is really given a chance to know who they are and by making too many jump cuts and gimmicky scares to get a cheap rise. This movie could never be accused of such annoyances; however it does the opposite and makes it even less enjoyable.
Both the visuals and the music are almost completely absent from this movie; and the latter of which is one of the most fundamentally important parts of any horror movie. To not utilize it properly means certain death for the film, and here it is no exception. Scenes that might have been legitimately haunting or chilling are just painful as a start scene leads to a predictable scare or worse, nothing.
The last 25 minutes of the movie are almost enough to compensate for the remainder of the film. Once Patrick, one of the lead scientists responsible for releasing the spirits comes back into the movie from the opening scene, we are finally given a rushed exposition about the characters and the science behind the story, as well as a satisfying climax and ending. As the team attempts to reverse what they have done, we are shown haunting visuals and a nearly chaotic soundtrack
that will question your sanity. Sadly, it comes too little too late to compensate for the rest of the film.
The Apparition is a movie plagued by unconvincing acting, a lack of stimulating or engaging visuals and a completely horrific pacing (you will forgive the pun). The premise of the film takes a slightly new angle on an original idea, but doesn’t give itself the time to truly flush it out and appreciate it; causing it to feel both rushed and sluggish at the same time. Given another few months for writing and revisions, there could have been a lot of potential here. But as it stands, The Apparition is one scary movie that just should have stayed dead and buried.
The Apparition hits theater nationwide August 24th. Watch the trailer here.