Friday, January 25, 2013

Film review: The Apparition

(Even after seeing the movie, I still have no idea what that tag line means.)

More than anything else, I love a good ghost story. THE APPARITION tries to give the viewer one, but falls short in terms of plot and character while going for creative scares and creepy imagery.

It opens in 1973, with a group of parapsychologists attempting to make contact with a deceased colleague. They appear to be successful. Years later, a group of college students recreate this experiment with the benefit of modern technology that boosts their brain signals, making them over 400 times more powerful. The students are able to unleash an entity that attacks the group and pulls one the participants into a wall.

The story jumps to couple Ben and Kelly, who are moving into a subdivision to look after the house for Kelly's parents. Cue the spooky happenings, and our movie is officially off and running.

...Sort of. The early dialogue between Ben and Kelly just meanders, without grabbing the viewer. It's typical, banal, couple stuff. The actors playing them lacked chemistry and made the relationship a little boring until the film started alluding to Ben's secret past as a member of the student group who contacted the aforementioned entity.

So we're not off and running, more like off with a half-hearted jog.

The haunting was the lone highlight of the film for me, because the creepy things that happened in or around the house were more interesting or creative than I expected. It's nice to see a different take on the usual moving objects, creepy sounds, lights going on and off and shadowy figures.

For a film about a haunting, the plot was somewhat predictable. If you've watched enough of this sub-genre, you'll know what I mean: Scary things happen, characters think of a way to stop it, big climax, false calm, renewed activity, new solution, end. I'm not saying it doesn't work, just that it shouldn't be so transparent. It might have helped if any of the science or theory behind the haunting made sense to me. I don't require explanations in every horror film I watch, I'm okay with a simple "Cause it's evil" in most movies, but with a ghost story like this you need a logic to follow. Especially a scientific one if your premise is that parapsychology started it all. One character spends quite a bit of time explaining the science, and I had a hard time following. I not only love ghost films, I also find parapsychology and real life paranormal phenomena interesting. If I can't follow the logic of how and why your haunting is happening, that's bad.

THE APPARITION isn't a terrible film, but at best it's just okay. Overall it looks good, and has some interesting scenes, but the characters aren't connecting with me or each other and the plot needed some work. It feels forgettable, and with so many more memorable horror films out there-- good and bad-- that's not a good place to be.

The Apparition official site
The Apparition via
The Apparition via Rotten Tomatoes

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