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I’m a ridiculously passionate fangirl when it comes to
supernatural movies. They are the equivalent of my horror turn-on. Where
monsters and psychopaths might leave me giggling like I just got off a good rollercoaster,
ghosts, demons or poltergeists cause me to glow euphorically.
I have sat patiently for years while zombies, vampires and
torture-inducing madmen roamed our movie screens, just waiting for those
paranormal beings to make a fashionable return to Hollywood’s favor. And with
this year’s releases of THE APPARITION, POSSESSION and SINISTER, I felt like my
beloved specters were back to once again fill me with terror/delight. Having
seen THE APPARITION, I’m now inclined to revise my plea: Dear Mr. Hollywood,
please send inventive, original ghost stories…not the likes of THE APPARITION.
The feature writing/directorial debut of Todd Lincoln, THE
APPARITION is about Kelly (Ashley Greene) and Ben (Sebastian Stan), a young
couple who have just moved into a huge house in a nearly deserted planned
community. In the standard haunted-home plot build, odd things start happening
around the place, including a neighbor’s dog dying and the growing of a strange
moldlike substance. Little does Kelly know, Ben was involved in an “experiment”
in college where he and some of his cohorts tried to conjure/capture a ghost;
it went horribly wrong and led to the death of his then-girlfriend. Now back to
the present—it’s clear Ben knows that this same specter is back and getting
closer and closer to seriously maiming his current girlfriend, but he refuses
to acknowledge its presence or even take frantic phone calls from his college
buddy (Tom Felton), who seems to be suffering from a similar case of ghosts.
This film is full of endless builds which are well set up,
but conclude with remarkably poor payoffs. Numerous times the music swells, the
lights darken, the audience falls silent and…and…oh, another lame fake or
poorly delivered scare. I was also annoyed by the hefty amount of product
placement in the flick. The first act alone provides glaring ads for Costco
(which is apparently a haven for spirits), McDonalds, Volkswagen, LaCie Rugged
Drives and several other products. I can’t say for sure that these were paid
ads, but I will say that the movie’s first 20 minutes felt like exposition
poorly woven into a long commercial break.
Additionally, much of the film seemed to be filler (even at
a scant 82-minute running time), padding out what are essentially two, maybe
three decent moments. And I’m not just talking about the 10-minute sequence
where the couple goes shopping at Costco (oh yeah, that’s in there…); all the
scenes drag. Some scenes are stuffed with hefty amounts of fake techno-ghost
garble, even though the actual science behind it all is hilariously absent, and
the audience has no clue what types of made-up theories the characters are
All that said, this movie may actually do well at the box
office. It is pure teen fodder, and it’s pretty clear that’s what the filmmakers
intended—evidence of this including the PG-13 rating and that two of the stars
are Greene of TWILIGHT fame and Felton, better known as Draco Malfoy in HARRY
POTTER. This film was not made to break new ground in horror cinema, it was
made to consume babysitting money and give 14-year-olds a place to awkwardly
make out in between minor scares.
I currently have a bet going with a fellow horror journalist
on how well this movie will perform. My guess is that it will do quite well. If
I lose, I have to mow his lawn. Prove me wrong, youth of America! I’ll be happy
to mow that lawn in exchange for knowing that budding horror-movie audiences
are smarter than I give them credit for.
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