The Apparition (Frank’s Take).
The poltergeist puff piece The Apparition would not put a decent scare into Casper the Friendly Ghost. This generic boofest is set in the predictable confines of suburbia and ill-advisedly looks to capitalize on the Paranormal Activities phenomenon. Merely a derivative goose-bump ghost ride, The Apparition is the callow concoction of first-time feature film director-writer Todd Lincoln. As an extended blueprint of haunted hokum, The Apparition fails miserably in providing any convincing chills that are featured in this woefully mild fright flick.
Clearly the horror genre dictates that the audience must be engaged by the unpredictability of psychological twitches and visceral gore. Lincoln’s pedestrian direction and tepid script does not allow the movie to even pass as a serviceable clichéd haunted house exposition. Bombarded by a sluggish premise of frivolous knee jerk responses within the boundaries of a syrupy bedroom community, The Apparition settles for the disturbing nerviness of conveying itself as a minimalist fear-inducing fable. Sadly, Lincoln’s paranormal pitfall never rises above its cheap-minded and cheesy transparent seediness.
The film introduces us to two schools for thought: a May 1973 para-psychological séance as an experimental incident gone incredibly sour and the modern-day link that will invite reminiscences of that nostalgic experiment concerning deceased supernatural menaces.
Three college students named Ben (Sebastian Stan, “Captain America: The First Avenger”), Patrick (Tom Felton, “Harry Potter” film series) and Ben’s galpal Lydia (Juliana Guill) try to play around with the borrowed 1973 séance methods by applying computerized technology and advanced electronics to reach “the other dimension beyond”. As with the early 70’s findings, the inquisitive trio gets the same results—an ominous ghostly presence that hovers over them and an untimely death that befalls poor Lydia.
In skipping to later times, Ben is involved with a new girlfriend named Kelly (Ashley Greene, “Twilight”). Kelly, a veterinarian office worker, is currently occupying her parents’ Californian home with her sweetheart Ben. Although Kelly and Ben often bicker about trivial stuff they soon come to realize that their insignificant differences do not compare to what is happening in their domestic surroundings.
The obligatory strange occurrences start to plague the young couple in the seemingly impeccable household. Kelly’s clothing is tampered with courtesy of odd tied knots. The house lights start to occasionally flicker and unidentified mold and mildew appear on the walls. Furniture and other household items begin to inexplicably move back and forth. Even the neighborhood dog is killed based on the random peculiarities concerning the house that is sure to upset the animal-loving Kelly. The romantic duo reach an obvious conclusion that Kelly’s parents’ humble stylized home must be haunted. Now how did they ever decide to reach this conclusion, huh?
It does not take long for Ben to reach out to his associate Patrick to help investigate the cynical circumstances generating within the house’s weird-minded walls. Somehow the revelation is realized that paranormal pals Patrick and Ben may have previously opened the deadly doors for these pesky afterlife nuisances to invade our earthly playground. Soon Patrick disappears but not before informing his buddy Ben that maybe he—and not the house—is the one that is cursed.
Sadly, The Apparition feels wooden and synthetic and has all the jittery charm of a kiddie’s Halloween mask. The paranormal prattle is relentlessly overdone and the tedious atmospheric twitches are more in line with the audience waiting for something provocative to occur. Lincoln misses the mark in what horror films normally convey which is the inherent satire of unlikely chaos corrupting the coziness of white bread suburbia. The ineptitude to even explore the in-built campiness of horror show flourishes is quite inexcusable.
The abysmal chemistry between Greene and Stan as the harried Kelly and Ben add to the movie’s mounting disenchantment. The disjointed torment and fear factor has all the intimidation of a calculus mid-term exam to a brainy M.I.T. student. Dreadfully executed with throwaway thrills, the movie is an aforementioned Paranormal Activities rip-off that has no percolating payoff whatsoever. Lackluster jolts and arbitrary empty jabs at suburbia and shopping mall consumerism seem vacuous and indigestible.
In short, The Apparition does not seem to have a ghost of a chance in bringing something distinctive or defining to the hair-raising hedonism of boo-enhanced cinema.
The Apparition (Warner Bros. Pictures)
1 hr. 22 mins.
Starring: Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan, Tom Felton, Juliana Guill
Directed by: Todd Lincoln
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre: Horror/Mystery & Suspense
Critic’s rating: * ½ stars (out of 4 stars)