Apollo 18 – Review
Space was once the final frontier. When JFK announced that we would send a man to the moon, science-fiction became plausible, and with a side order of patriotism to boot. In the intervening years, the great Space Race became a series of false starts, jokes, and was eventually put to rest by the Obama administration, and those wide-eyed kids of the Cold War who looked to the stars for sights and knowledge with optimism, were the ones closing the door on those dreams. It’s amazing how when we successfully sent men to the moon, future missions were met with improper funding, faulty technology, and just plain old cancellations. Hmm. Cancelled missions back to the moon, has fueled conspiracy theories, and that’s the tense fun of Apollo 18, which is a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream.
Apollo 18 is a stunning docudrama, which nudges itself in the propaganda of the 1960s optimism of the unknown frontier, using extreme attention to details, creating a “lost” look at the real reason we never went back to the moon. Director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego uses the blackness of space and the small quarters of the station to create maximum tension and claustrophobia. Using the conventions of the “found footage” genre to its advantage, Lopez-Gallego freshens up the sub-genre. Sound is key, as it is in Paranormal Activity or Blair Witch (who are the grand-dads of the genre still), but since the equipment and the lunar location are still foreign to the audience, and easily creates a position of unrest.
Make no mistake, if you’re not in tune with the “found footage” aspect, then the film won’t work. Your loss. Apollo 18 is stunningly real, harrowing, and creepy. The scares might be minimal, since the film’s pace is set to break-neck speed leaving little build-up for suspense and then the pay off, but I’ll happily sacrifice this for the immense claustrophobia. Apollo 18 is an imaginative take on a genre far too reliant on ghosts and zombies. If you want chills, Apollo 18 is your hair-raising answer. Look to the stars, and be thankful you’re only on Earth.