Saturday, 3 September 2011



The dreaded found footage subgenre of obvious bullcrap boldly goes into outer space in this unutterable balderdash that's pretty much equal parts dull, annoying and cretinous to a degree that would shame the intellect of a soup spoon. Not only is found footage a long-exhausted film making technique, but it's also a subgenre so restrictive that the question "what do you plan to bring to this project?" can only be answered with the words "Nothing whatsoever". For all the tricky editing on display in this film, its entire existence rests on the notion that it's actually genuine, when it so patently isn't any such thing. Enough. If you can't make films properly, don't make it badly and bleat that it's real. We're not that stupid.

The genius idea behind Apollo 18 is that after the lunar expeditions we know about, there was one extra top-secret one, to investigate claims that the Russians had been there as well. But it turns out there's something else up there: something hostile. With a multitude of television and video cameras and motion detectors, as well as 16mm cine cameras and hours of Kodachrome stock, the two astronauts set out on the surface to find whatever it is. But If there was a second Russian cosmonaut, where is he? And if there was only one, then who - or what killed him? What if it's a life form? What if it's contagious?

Certainly they've gone to great lengths to make it all look real: interspersing the actors' scenes with genuine NASA footage, shooting everything on 16mm and clunky early-70s tape (or processing everything to look like it) in a variety of aspect ratios. But as with all found footage movies, it's a particularly desperate lie: we know that Pirates Of The Caribbean is just as much of a fiction but crucially it's not pretending to be genuine. Here it's as patently, blatantly a work of fiction but really trying hard to look genuine long after it's been rumbled. It's pathetic and the hair-in-the-gate, the scratchy, grainy film stock, and the absence of a music score doesn't make it a whit more realistic. Nor does Bob Weinstein standing up and saying "we didn't shoot anything, we found it!" That's not just a flat out lie, it's not even a plausible lie and it makes Weinstein look like an utter dick for thinking we'll swallow this crap.

It's also a failure it terms of basic logic. If this film was actually a genuine collage of the footage shot by the crew, then how did it end up back on Earth? Was there another mission to retrieve the rolls of exposed film from the abandoned American lander? If so that rather defeats the film's "There's a reason we never went back to the moon" tagline. And similarly, how did NASA obtain the film from the orbiter? Maybe we sent robots or something. I don't suppose it's worth pointing out that several moments on the moon clearly show objects falling at a rate commensurate with Earth gravity: about 9.81, the sort of figure you'd associate with Vancouver, where it was actually shot.

There's no reason why Apollo 18 couldn't have been made as a proper, regular movie with proper edits and effects and music, like most films are. Not only would it have been honest about its fictitious origins but as an all-too-rare SF/horror romp, it might well have been good fun. Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego has made proper films before - King Of The Hill is a fair enough wandering-round-in-the-woods thriller - and there's no reason why he couldn't have done the same here. Instead we get the chaotic and jumpy images, the indistinct dialogue, the tedious Paranormal Inactivity video shots of nothing happening, and a stupid ending that invalidates the whole film's very existence. Utterly abysmal, and possibly one of the worst films of the year.


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