It's fitting that mold plays such a significant role in "The Apparition." The PG-13 horror film has been growing some mold of its own sitting on Warner Bros.' shelf, waiting to be released.
Now, after being pushed back almost an entire year, it's finally (and unceremoniously) being released, albeit into a miniscule 810 theaters, making it one of the studio's smallest nationwide releases. Jeez, Warner Bros., it's almost as though you don't want people to see this movie.
It seems the studio's precautions are entirely validated, as "The Apparition" offers very little in terms of entertainment and even less in scares.
"Twilight" cast member Ashley Greene stars as Kelly, a young veterinary student who's renting a nice new house with her tech support boyfriend Ben ("Captain America"'s Sebastian Stan). The couple is cute and happy until a serious of strange unexplainable events start bothering their comfortable life. Doors blow open, strange ash appears on the counter and mold starts growing everywhere. A dog even dies, though frankly, it looked more like the dog just went to sleep. I sympathize with him.
It turns out several years earlier, Ben was involved with a strange college experiment with a British colleague (Tom Felton, better known as Draco Malfoy from "Harry Potter") who wanted to create a ghost with the sheer power of belief. Of course, it went horribly awry, and the consequences are now haunting our band of attractive post-grads.
Even with the most basic of horror movie premises (ghost haunts people), "The Apparition" manages to be far more confusing than it needs to be. Characters' motivations and actions become almost impossible to understand. The film's climax involves some kind of ghost extermination involving strange blue lamps that I honestly couldn't attempt to explain.
First-time writer/director Todd Lincoln's script can't even seem to decide what the ghost is. The college experiment was based on a thin, gaunt man named Charles (a decently creepy image for specter), but later in the film, it appears to be a black-haired girl in the vein of "The Grudge." An embarrassingly lazy voiceover monologue by Felton near the end attempts to put the pieces together (something about portals), but by that time, most of the audience has probably checked out.
"The Apparition"'s main function, other than scaring tweens, is to hopefully jump-start Greene's post-"Twilight" film career. Unfortunately, Greene, who ironically looks like a happier Kristen Stewart, brings very little to screen. The screenplay manages to put her in several stages of undress, which may endear her to the young males in the audience, but she doesn't have much charisma.
The supporting characters don't fare much better. Stan fades right into the background as Greene's boyfriend. There are a few moments when the character could feel guilt for his past actions and present consequences, but Stan looks more sleepy than remorseful.
Potterheads may be excited that Felton is in a rare non-sniveling role, but he is less of a character and more of a fountain of convoluted exposition. His interactions with Greene and Stan tediously play out like a conversation between three planks of wood, but one of the planks is British.
Lincoln admittedly has a decent eye for visuals, even when the logic of a scene escapes him. A sequence involving an excessively clingy bed sheet while Stan's disembodied soul watches from the ceiling is at least interesting to look at, even though it makes no sense in the story (the ghost may have the power to teleport people, which is the only way I can make sense of a scene in which Greene, attempting to escape a room with a ghost, nails herself in the same room).
The director's grasp on pacing is just as loose. The first half of "The Apparition" feels very rushed, plowing through scenes of failed tension and atmosphere building. As the film reaches its final act, however, it feels surprisingly long, quite a feat considering the running time clocks in well under 90 minutes. The official runtime says 82 minutes, but almost ten minutes of that is the end credits.
At least that means "The Apparition" is mercifully short. Even shorter, however, is the time you'll spend forgetting its existence. You can't say Warner Bros. didn't try.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published June 19, 2013
UWM grad and Milwaukee-trained actress Emma Bates talked to OnMilwaukee about "Much Ado About Nothing," the little secret Shakespeare movie writer-director-geek icon Joss Whedon made while working on another micro-budget movie called "The Avengers."
Published June 18, 2013
Noah Baumbach's 2005 breakthrough "The Squid and the Whale" is a great movie, but it should come with a warning. The dialogue and characters are so cutting and acidic, I was left looking for a Band-Aid when it was all done. Eight years and a couple more scathing features later, Baumbach delivers "Frances Ha," a sweet Woody Allen-esque comedy that his honest, funny, acute screenplays can come with a light, tender touch, as well.
Published June 18, 2013
Even if the movie is good enough to bring an captivated tear to George A. Romero's eye, the odds are very much against "World War Z." Here are the five main reasons why this upcoming zombie spectacular is almost guaranteed to be a pain in the neck for Pitt and company by the end of the weekend.
Published June 14, 2013
While director Zack Snyder (the Green Bay native behind "300") outdoes even himself in terms of epic visual spectacle, his attempt to churn out a moody, serious Superman story in the vein of Christopher Nolan - who serves as producer and provided the story alongside Batman collaborator David S. Goyer - lands with a thud.
Published June 12, 2013
If "This Is The End" is any evidence, it seems we know how James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Craig Robinson, Jay Baruchel and Danny McBride would bid the planet adieu: They'd have a whole lot of drugged up, profane, wild fun. If this is what the end of the world as we know it looks like, to borrow a phrase from R.E.M., I feel fine.
Published June 11, 2013
Dear readers, I have seen our savior, and its name is Google. Google is a shining, six-letter, multi-colored beacon of light and hope in these dark, difficult times, and its technological wizardry brings joy to the hearts of millions. All hail our wonderful search engine leader. All hail it indeed. At least, that was my main takeaway coming out of "The Internship," a woefully humor-devoid workplace comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.
Published June 10, 2013
As it turns out, Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" wasn't the only recent Oscar nominee with its eyes set on the high seas. In the Best Foreign Film category, there was Norway's "Kon-Tiki." And while there might not be any disgruntled tigers in sight, the real-life journey of legendary explorer Thor Heyerdahl and his motley crew is just as beautiful and wondrous to behold. I guess there's enough ocean in the world for two great waterlogged adventures.
Published June 9, 2013
A movie called "Love Is All You Need" is clearly a movie that does not mess around. Most films may try to weave the message or theme into the story with some nuance, but not "Love Is All You Need." It's right there in the title: The characters in this movie will learn that love is, in fact, all you need. With a blunt title like that, what else could you possibly expect? Not much apparently.
Published June 8, 2013
The phrase "Sundance darling" comes with a bit more skepticism for me nowadays. Sure, the label can sometimes be pinned to a really honest, hilarious and emotionally satisfying film. Other times, it's stuck onto a movie that's both overworked and over-quirked. "The Kings of Summer" swings to both sides of that pendulum, its clever jokes and earnest look at growing-up constantly fighting against the pull of its indie indulgences.
Published June 7, 2013
"Mud" serves as the third film for writer-director Jeff Nichols, but this one comes with something new: expectations.