This one’s worth checking out.

Suspenseful; worthwhile

In Cloverfield we saw a monster attack from the perspective of someone’s shaky hand-held camera; The Blair Witch Project showed a haunted forest through the eyes of a few teens and their home camera; in Paranormal Activity we saw something similar in a haunted suburbian house; this movie, Gonzalo López-Gallego Apollo 18, does something similar in space.

This film is supposed to be found footage from cameras, some shaky and some steady, used by a group of astronauts during a secret moon-landing mission, Apollo 18, aboard lunar module Liberty (In real life, this expedition was canceled… or was it?), that shows how something terrifying and strange happened to them, preventing their return home. I’m not exactly sure how the footage returned to Earth, to be perfectly honest.

Apollo 18 is set in 1973. It starts of like sort of a documentary, kindly explaining the new moon-mission to the audience. Three astronauts – Commander Nathan Walker (Lloyd Owen), Lt Colonel John Grey (Ryan Robbins) and Captain Benjamin Anderson (Warren Christie) – are launched to the moon to place on it a bunch of detectors that will alert the United States of possible missile-attacks from the Soviet Union. While Grey stays in orbit, Walker and Anderson go down to the moon’s surface to complete the task at hand.

Eventually, the two make an unsettling discovery. Russians (or Soviets, if you will) have apparently been to the moon too, and the seemingly lone cosmonaut has been mysteriously killed. It looks as though he has been infected with some sort of deadly virus or somesuch. Afterwards, other strange things start happening.

There is something hostile on our moon.

The cameras start malfunctioning, screeching noises are heard on the radio, Walker gets dangerously sick and the flag they planted outside the shuttle disappears. It also becomes unclear whether any of the astronauts will return home from the moon or not. If they are infected by whatever virus is on the moon, they cannot do so.

Is it perhaps the Soviets who are behind what’s happening? Huoston tells the astronauts that the Russians have, after all, been disguising moon expeditions as satellite launches. Or perhaps it is something else? Could be, I dunno, aliens? Did NASA know about all this? Did they know what was hiding up on our moon?

I didn’t think it would quite work, but in the end I found myself caring and feeling for the characters and wishing for their return home. By the time when they find the cosmonaut Apollo 18 actually does become genuinely suspenseful and somewhat scary, and I was saddened by what happened to the astronauts. They still could’ve used more character development, but nevermind.

While it is most certainly a pretty enjoyable film, I don’t really consider Apollo 18a great success. The way it is shot and edited is only effective sometimes, but at other times it is only irritating and disorienting. And again, if the astronauts did not make it back to Earth and it is dangerous to return to the moon, just how did the footage make it back here? Who knows?

The Liberty has landed.

It is certainly worth a viewing, though. If you choose to skip it, it might not be a huge loss on your part; if you choose to see it, it might be worth your while, and you might also start thinking that the US government are bastards. No offense, my dear Yankees.

I think I am going to start joking around by describing Apollo 18 as ‘Paranormal Activity with aliens’. Speaking of, expect a review of the third installment in the Paranormal Activity-series soon enough.

3/5 whatever