‘Apollo 18’ probably would have been a great move, had it not been preceded by the likes of ‘The Blair Witch Project’ or ‘Cloverfield’. Yeah, unfortunately it’s one of those films that look like some of your parents’ old home movies. While the novelty of the first- person cinema vérité style of filming has worn off a bit, it truly serves ‘Apollo 18’ well. I’ve heard from more than a few filmgoers that say they simply can’t stand all that jerky hand-held camera video, so this type of movie is probably a non-starter for those folks. Which is too bad, because in this case, the format fits the concept behind the film very well and it truly does have an early 70’s period look and feel.
The film is presented in the guise of secretly obtained video ‘evidence’ of a covert space mission. The premise is that after the last REAL Apollo 17 mission, when the program was cut due to budget concerns, the Department of Defense arranged and financed yet one more secret mission - Apollo 18. To further the film’s premise of the supposed cover-up, the producers of ‘Apollo 18’ went as far as setting up a fake web site [www.lunartruth.com] that is sure to pique the interest of those who just love a conspiracy.
The three Astronauts played by Warren Christie, Lloyd Owen, and Ryan Robbins, occupy 99% percent of the film. While all three have mostly TV acting credits to their names, they are uncredited here – most likely a ploy to further the notion of the leaked classified footage. Told that they are going to the moon to set up equipment to act as part of a cold-war era early warning system, the men lament to each other that they can never divulge what they view as a great achievement. As their mission gets underway, things slowly begin to happen that begin to raise alarm and doubt among them.
Director Gonzalo López-Gallego does a very good job of slowly building up the elements that begin to rattle the crew of ‘Apollo 18’. While the movie itself may not garner much praise, I couldn’t help but marvel at the work that must have gone into selecting the specific shots, camera angles, and effects that work to add to the suspense. Inside capsule shots contribute to a sense of claustrophobia and vulnerability. While fairly mild on special effects, ‘Apollo 18’ proves the adage that sometimes less is more.
Without giving away any of the surprises that lay in wait for potential viewers, I do have to lament the existence of a few serious logic issues, that if given too much consideration, take away from the pseudo-documentary atmosphere. The film does drag in a few spots, but the hour and a half flew by for me. If you were a fan of the aforementioned ‘The Blair Witch Project’ or ‘Cloverfield’, you would most likely enjoy this one. However, if you’re prone to motion sickness, you may want to invest in some Dramamine before taking this one in.