The Apparition movie review
I'm all for the slow build-up in a good story, but what The Apparition tries to pull is bordering on false advertising. First of all, it's worth noting that the events described in the trailer make up about five minutes of the film and are almost unrelated to the actual plot. What looks like a crew of ghost hunters going too far to scare up some spirits is actually the same old haunted house nonsense we've seen a thousand times over.
The ghost hunting experiment goes wrong and from there we are introduced to a couple (Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan) moving into a new house in an empty neighborhood in the middle of nowhere. They drone on and on about unpacking and shopping for decorations. "Do you think we can get a saguaro cactus at Costco?" she asks. I can't help wondering why, between this and The Watch, we got two movies in less than a month infatuated with Costco.
Slowly, and I do mean slowly, the bumps in the night begin. Doors opening and closing, security systems failing, lights flickering, and various other ghostly pranks assail the couple. Yet I was still left wondering what any of this has to do with the experiment that introduced the movie. By the time the plot finally began to reconnect with the opening scene, the fundamentally bad filmmaking washed away any care for the protagonists and their conflict.
It can't be stressed enough how tired it all feels. A new couple in a new town, a haunted house, and ghastly pranks all add up to the same domestic paranoia that makes up the vast majority of crummy horror films. Why must we retread the same ground over and over when there are so many cool places a horror film could spend its time in? How many movies does Poltergeist have to be better than, before people get it? Worst of all, The Apparition had an opening premise that had nothing to do with a haunted house, yet for whatever reason they just couldn't help themselves. It's a derail so harsh that, about five minutes in, it feels like an entirely different movie starts.
By the time the plot finally starts to surface you'll most likely be too checked out to care. The writers seemed to be aware of this too. When they finally come up with a solution to fight back the hauntings, their logic is the kind of babbling nonsense that only ever works in episodes of Doctor Who. When the underutilized Tom Felton practically hands the next plot point to the couple on a sheet of paper, The Apparition reaches DEFCON 1 levels of predictability.
In the end the film suggests that Costco is where you go when you die, cementing it as one of the saddest movie-going experiences I've had in some time. Beyond the unlikeable cast of characters, bait-and-switch premise, and complete lack of scares, The Apparition is perhaps worst of all an indictment of the horror genre altogether. When this is all you have to do to make money, why bother putting an ounce of creative vision into your scary movie? It seems futile, but then it just makes me love the true visionaries of terror all the more.