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Blair Witch in Space: Apollo 18 belies its "found footage" scenario and goes for the gusto 

Apollo 18 wants to seem like real footage coming at you with truthfulness but instead makes you reminded of The Blair Witch Project.

click to enlarge film_apollo18.jpg
We all have to make choices. Like if someone tells you a story and says it really happened, you choose to believe it. And if it's an especially good story, well even better. If it's embellished, all over the map and totally unbelievable, but ultimately makes you laugh, well, then all the better.

If you want to believe, go ahead, but Apollo 18 quickly sheds its "found footage" concept and just digs deep into delivering some excellent horror movie goods. Please note that there are credits to Apollo 18. In other words: this shit ain't for real.

Apollo 18 is so simple it's refreshing: disguised as lost footage of a secret mission to the moon, a few good men go into space and find out something is really wrong and mysteriously deadly. The astronauts quickly realize they're guinea pigs and now it's life or space death at the hands of creepy life forms on the moon. As in Ridley Scott's masterpiece, Alien, their mission is not a return flight. The space program's head honchos back on planet Earth only want a specimen of the dangerous stuff to verify its existence and keep it monitored. So what's the problem with sacrificing a few astronauts?

Although Apollo 18 comes from the formulaic ilk of frontrunner The Blair Witch Project and the idiocy of the Paranormal Activity chain, the "found footage" school of filmmaking allows us to laugh at the fact that no one could possibly be holding a camera for certain scenes unless it was a union dude from Hollywood. Don't be looking for Tom Hanks or Ed Harris or the scent of Ron Howard's fingers on this one. This Apollo goes for intensity with stone cold performances, real NASA footage and sci-fi terror ripped right out of Alien.

And there are monsters. They enter out of nowhere, in true horror style, darting in silhouette forms across the screen. They also have that Descent kind of monster noise. You know, the hamster chuckling, woodpecker pecking, trees creaking, gurgling kind of noise. And these are spider/rock demon/crab monsters (like in South Park). So if you ever bought a moon rock as a souvenir, watch out it could bite you in the ass.

Of course, there is a big dramatic pause at the end to make you feel like you've just watched something real. You're asked to visit, which is basically a site that at the moment doesn't exist. But sticking around the theater, you'll see about 12 minutes of credits including actors, writers and a slew of techno post production teams that boggle the mind. A major plus among the credits is editor Patrick Lussier, whose inspired directing skills brought us Drive Angry and My Bloody Valentine. Lussier has a bloody field day throwing images in our faces and using every trick in the book: grainy film stock, skips, washouts, jump cuts, fuzzy film hair, dust scratches, burn holes... you name it, it's in there. The rewarding part is that though the gimmicks abound, they don't hinder or distract. Rather, they propel the simple yet crazy narrative.

Unlike the abysmal Paranormal Activity, which reeks of phoniness from the get go and wants you to believe so bad that it shoots itself in the foot, Apollo 18 shuns the documentary concept and goes for the jugular, giving the polar opposite effect. The director, Lopez-Gallego and Lussier could give a shit if you believe or not. These filmmakers are here to entertain you, which, in the long run, turns out to be a great choice.

Apollo 18
Starring Warren Christie, Lloyd Owen
Directed by Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego
Rated PG-13


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