You rarely expect “generic ghost story #4,301” to have a legitimately good plot or leave a lasting impression, but you’re in it for the quick and cheap thrill. You’re supposed to feel your heart racing as tension builds up while the character walks into darkness, foolishly investigating a noise. Then at some point… BAM! You do your best to pretend you aren’t startled when you’re struck with a predictable jump scare (we’re all internet tough guys on the outside), but it’s still a thrill.
However, that’s not the case with The Apparition. Simply put, it’s not scary at all. Every now and then, a horror movie can still succeed without being scary, though. John Carpenter’s The Thing isn’t especially frightening, but it’s still a superb film because it draws on other elements to freak you out. Unfortunately, The Apparition brings nothing to the table to compensate for a complete lack of scares. Unless you’re a Twilight fan that just wants to see Ashley Greene in her undies… then I guess you’ll get your money’s worth.
Despite the technical complexities behind it, the premise is actually very simple. If enough people truly believe in something supernatural, it’ll come to fruition. It’s kind of like how a Green Lantern Ring works… but, instead of making bright and awesome constructs with your mind, you’re opening the door for a ghoul that wants to destroy your life. To prove apparitions exist, Ben (Sebastian Stan), Patrick (Tom Felton) and a few others conduct a college experiment.
The event works and they bring a rather pissed off creature into our dimension. Ben abandons the whole situation and begins a cozy life with Kelly (Ashley Greene). Elsewhere, his peers come to realize they’d make terrible Ghostbusters. Said phantom proceeds to annoy all of the individuals involved, but we have the misfortune of observing Ben and Kelly’s mundane lives during the whole ordeal.
The characters, mainly Ben and Kelly, are frustratingly stupid and act like true horror victim stereotypes. When it becomes abundantly clear the house is haunted, Kelly finally says something smart: she’s getting the hell out. But, apparently her definition of a safe distance is just camping out in the backyard. Needless to say, her brilliant plan isn’t a success. Meanwhile, Ben knows it’s an intangible being, yet he walks around with a baseball bat. You can’t hit what you can’t see or touch, slugger.
I lost track of how many times I groaned and face-palmed during the film and apparently, I wasn’t alone in this feeling. The audience (and I) laughed at most of the scares, and a few of the lines were absolutely cringe-worthy. If you do see it, I hope you appreciate the dog line as much as I did.
Director-writer Todd Lincoln treats us to an overabundant amount of establishing shots. The first aerial shot or two were amusing, but seeing multiple views of the exterior of the home and neighborhood every other scene was excessive and tiring. It really made the mere 82 minute run time feel much longer. The basic premise holds the potential for some interesting possibilities, but Lincoln’s script tosses aside any and all cerebral points and goes straight for simplistic horror tropes.
To be brutally blunt, this isn’t a good movie. It’s a horror movie that does nothing original and doesn’t even manage to scare you in the process. If you enjoy laughing at bad movies with friends, then sure, have a good time watching it this weekend. Otherwise, stay away.
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