Producer Joel Silver has done a lot of iconic films — probably best known in pop(corn) culture for his Matrix movies and other assorted action flicks — but what he really loves is a haunted house story. He's tackled some thought-to-be untouchable remake properties and given them super-flashy makeovers ala The House on Haunted Hill or 13 Ghosts. But here with The Apparition, he's taken on a totally original screenplay from writer and first time feature director Todd Lincoln, and pretty much left his fingerprint entirely off.
I have to admit, it's not easy for me to review this film objectively because it's not meant for me: it's for preteens and teenagers who probably haven't seen very many horror films, and it's meant, I'm assuming, to be 'the' date movie on opening weekend. It's a decent time-waster, but I'm looking forward to seeing what Lincoln comes up with next as his directorial style emerges into more mature genre fare.
The story is pretty standard — outrageously good-looking young couple moves into secluded home, finds out it's haunted, panic ensues, séances follow, and things go bump in the night until finally something's gotta give — but what elevates this PG-13 teen-friendly fright flick are its fresh-faced actors juxtaposed with old-school gravitas.
Film franchise faves Ashley Green ("Twilight"), Sebastian Stan ("Captain America") and Tom Felton ("Harry Potter") under the guidance of Silver and cinematographer Daniel Pearl (he lensed the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre for Tobe Hooper back in the day), do nicely. (Though, honestly — Greene and Stan pale in comparison to Felton, and it would have been nice to've seen his role more expanded… but, he's basically there for back-story, exposition and a pinch of British spice in a small but important role as an expert in the paranormal. And by the way, he plays a character named Patrick. Nice wink, there.)
It looks good; it's a rare treat to see a movie these days which has been shot on 35 mm film in 2:35 aspect ratio. tomandandy's score stands out, adding further dimension (the duo's done such films as Natural Born Killers, plus the Resident Evil franchise) to the boo-scares.
My only issue with the film is that "the apparition" isn't actually a traditional ghost. It's an unknown, inhuman entity, and if I'm understanding correctly, was never a person. Its only agenda is to consume, much like a virus. It's not rooted in any kind of a previous existence, so I found it difficult to connect, and therefore be scared.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson