Clocking in at 74 minutes (not including end credits), the only thing scary about The Apparition is that any studio would think to charge you to watch it. This supposed supernatural thriller is a hollowed out shell of creaky noises, shadows and utter nonsense. There is little doubt as to why this film sat on a shelf for over a year, waiting for an empty weekend to con unsuspecting moviegoers out of their money, but if you end up paying to see this don’t be ashamed to ask for your money back.
The film begins with a group of four college students attempting to recreate what is referred to as “The Charles Experiment”, a fictional happening that occurred several years ago where a group of people were able to manifest an entity from the other side. Well, these kids want to do it again, using today’s technology to amplify the signal and really get this otherworld ghost into our world. It works and things go horribly wrong to the point one girl even gets sucked into the wall.
Fast forward a few years and Ben (Sebastian Stan), who was there that day, has left the incident behind. He’s now moving in with his girlfriend Kelly (Ashley Greene) and all is well. They go to a Mexican restaurant and she throws tortilla chips at him and laughs. They go to Costco and buy a cactus. On the way home Ben gets a phone call, he doesn’t answer it, something is wrong… All the while an intrusive electronic score from Tom Hajdu and Andy Milburn (credited as tomandandy, yes, in all lowercase) plays over the scene, almost as if someone hit the wrong button.
Once Ben and Kelly get home strange things start to happen. Kelly’s cactus dies, a weird fungus is growing, a dog walks into their house and dies and all of Kelly’s clothes in her closet are tied in knots. What is going on?
Well, as it turns out Patrick (Tom Felton, aka Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter films), the leader of the college science group, decided to do the “Charles Experiment” again only this time with even more amplification and an attempt to trap the malevolent being they conjure into existence. It fails and, for some unexplained reason, the ghost runs over to Ben and Kelly’s house to haunt them even though they had nothing to do with letting it loose.
From here a security camera walks across the backyard and other not-at-all-scary situations take place. It is honestly one of the most poorly thought out “scary” movies I’ve ever seen. Nothing makes sense and the audience has little investment, care or understanding as to what is going on or why. Even worse, it’s not scary in the least as electronic gadgetry turns this into a some sort of Ghostbusters operation.
What was that? Get the EEG machine! Amplify the electrodes and reverse the polarity so we can trap it! Did it work? I think so! Oh no! Where did he go?!?!
I get the feeling writer/director Todd Lincoln was going for something ambiguous, believing what we don’t understand is scarier, and in most cases that’s true, but when all you give the audience are shadows, a few crazy visions and killer bed sheets you haven’t done anything to scare anyone. At least I’ll give him a little credit, the ending is so abrupt you’re likely to think they forgot a reel. In fact, it could have ended about even earlier and perhaps run under an hour long, which would have been a real treat.
Perhaps I should be praising it for the minor miracle it was able to attempt to tell any story in the first place. I didn’t come out hating The Apparition as much as I recognized the fact it doesn’t even hold up to the slightest bit of scrutiny. The dialogue is a joke, the story is absent of any intrigue and reasoning is an afterthought.
The highest praise goes to the Warner Bros. marketing department who somehow came up with the tagline “Once you believe, you die.” Even this makes no sense, unless I missed a seriously important piece of the plot, considering dying in this case has nothing to do with believing, unless you believe every shitty movie brings cinema one step closer to dying… In that case, the marketing is true.