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Apollo 18

Reviewed by Galen Strickland

Or: The Blair Witch Goes to the Moon.

I could have paraphrased the title of an older low-budget horror film, but I knew it would be too much of a spoiler. I am sure you will know which one I'm talking about if you bother seeing this one. [Hint: it was released in 1978.]

Apollo 17 was the United States' last manned mission to the moon, or so we thought. Footage found many years later and uploaded to an internet website purports to reveal the true story. Using some stock NASA footage along with low-quality video and film images, Spanish director Gonzalo López-Gallego has fashioned a tense little conspiracy film that entertains effectively on some levels...as long as you don't think about it too much. Several mistakes were made, the first being the casting of recognizable actors instead of unknowns. The first Blair Witch film was effective because it was easier to believe it was found footage shot by some random college kids out for a lark in a spooky wooded area. But as soon as you see Warren Christie (currently co-starring on Syfy's Alphas) and Ryan Robbins (veteran of several other Syfy shows such as Battlestar Galactica, Caprica and Sanctuary), all pretense that the events are supposedly real flies right out the lunar module hatch.

Another thing one shouldn't think about too much is how the footage was recovered in the first place. The fixed video cameras inside the command module and the lunar lander could have sent the images back to Earth to be recorded in Houston, Cape Canaveral or one of NASA's other telemetry locations. But the cameras hand-held by the astronauts was said to be 8mm film, so who recovered those and when? If the answer turns out to be the crew of Apollo 19 that would negate the advertising tagline for this film - "There's a reason we've never gone back to the moon."

Those nitpicks aside, I was effectively entertained for the short 86 minute running time. It is nice to know that $5 million can be spent on a decent looking film, although that was also the estimated budget for Duncan Jones' Moon, which was infinitely better. Apollo 18 was worth the matinee price of $5, although I realize that won't apply in other locations. It wouldn't be a waste of time to rent once it hits DVD, which I think will be quite soon.

 

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Director
Gonzalo López-Gallego

Screenplay
Brian Miller
Cory Goodman

Released
September 2, 2011

Cast
Warren Christie
Lloyd Owen
Ryan Robbins

Full Credits at IMDb

DVD and Blu-Ray available now.