Horror movies have a unique advantage over its peers in the cinematic market. To be successful, the films don’t need big stars, million-dollar budgets, a legendary director or an award-winning script; they simply need to be genuinely scary.
While this sounds like a modest goal, it is rarely achieved. The latest dud added to this list is the Warner Bros. release “The Apparition.”
Writer-director Todd Lincoln opens in a found-footage format, the default style for low budget paranormal productions, with a group of college students holding a séance around a sculpture with hopes to bring it to life.
The Charles Experiment, as it is called, follows the inspirational universal theory that something will come true if you believe in it hard enough. Here, however, that belief is to raise the dead.
As expected, things don’t work out too well. Tables shake, lights flicker and a girl gets sucked into a wall.
Flash forward to the present, and an attractive young couple Kelly (Twilight’s Ashley Greene) and Ben (Gossip Girl’s Sebastian Stan) are moving into the home where the experiment was held.
The film doesn’t waste time getting to the eerie incidents and — even after doors opening, furniture moving and a dog falling dead on the kitchen floor — the courageous couple refuses to be frightened out of their home.
“Our house is too new to be haunted,” Ben tells his slightly spooked girlfriend. “It has no history.”
Eventually the paper-thin plot unravels, and the couple discovers the strange coincidences are from supernatural spirits that leave behind black fungus and mold spores. This plot point comes across more dirty and annoying than terrifying.
This news, however, prompts them to leave the house and seek refuge in a hotel. But, in a shocking turn of events, they learn it isn’t the house that’s haunted but the couple themselves.
And the girl who disappeared into the wall? That’s Ben’s ex-girlfriend, who’s grudge has extended into the afterlife.
“The Apparition” wasn’t screened for critics, and this is by far the most intelligent thing about the movie. All the attempts this film makes fall short and come across both half-baked and overdone.
Clocking in at a whooping 82 minutes, “The Apparition” plays out like a bad YouTube series produced by The CW and plastered on the silver screen.The score is overly dramatic and obnoxious, and Greene and Stan lack anything remotely close to chemistry.
Not even the few glimmers of creative cinematography, which show for only a split-second that Lincoln might actually be a decent director, can salvage this lost little film.