APOLLO 18, 2011
Decades-old found footage from NASA's abandoned Apollo 17 mission, where two American astronauts were sent on a secret expedition, reveals the reason the U.S. has never returned to the moon.
Supposedly, after Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, he said to NASA “They're watching us. From the moon.” It's likely that this is just hearsay and a big conspiracy theory, but either way it makes a great idea for a movie, and that's exactly what they've done with “Apollo 18”... well... sort of.
The last Apollo mission to the moon was Apollo 17. The three Apollo missions scheduled after that were inexplicably scrapped, siting monetary issues as the reason at the United States would no longer be sending any more astronauts to the moon. In 1974, however, the crew that was scheduled for Apollo 18 (Commander Nathan Walker, Lieutenant Colonel John Grey and Captain Benjamin Anderson) were contacted by NASA and informed that they would indeed get their shot to visit the moon, only it would be a secret mission that they couldn't tell even their families about. During this secret moon mission, the astronauts would deploy ICBM detectors that would give the U.S. Government early warning (and therefore the upper hand) should the Russians decide to launch missiles against us.
Nathan and Ben land on the surface of the moon in a lunar lander while John stays in the moon's orbit to act as a go-between for means of communication between the astronauts and NASA. The two men on the moon plant one of the ICBM detectors and also collect moon rocks as samples to bring back to Earth, as has been done on previous Apollo missions. That night, while in bed, Nathan and Ben are woken up by unusual noises. They search for the source of the sound and contact NASA about the problem, but they're told it's probably a disturbance in the frequency of the ICBM detector. They are told to go back to sleep and the problem will be solved by morning. They accept this are go back to bed, but find one of the rock samples lying on the floor, outside the casing in which it had been previously stored.
The next day, they go out in the land rover to explore the moon's surface and find footprints that are not their own. They follow the footprints and find a Russian lunar lander and a dead cosmonaut! No Russian moon landing has ever been recorded, so the astronauts demand to know what's going on. NASA tells them that they were unaware of a Russian moon mission, and that the soviets must have done it under the disguise of a satellite launch.
The following day, the astronauts wake up to discover that the American flag they had planted has been removed and destroyed, along with the disappearance of an motion detecting video camera (which had earlier picked up movement of a nearby moon rock) and their land rover has been turned on its side. Freaked out, and their mission complete, the men prepare to return to Earth, but the take-off is aborted when the ship is violently shook. Nathan goes out to investigate and finds that parts of their lander have been destroyed. He also discovers non-human tracks. Suddenly he starts screaming that there is something moving in his suit, and a large spider-like creature crawls across the inside of his helmet's visor and he is knocked down. After Ben brings Nathan back into the lander, they find a large wound in his chest with a lunar rock inside that moves and then explodes after being surgically removed. That doesn't stop Nathan from getting a rapidly spreading infection from the wound and going on an insane rampage, causing the men to have to search for the Russian lunar lander again to get home.
“Apollo 18” is portrayed in it's trailer as a horrifying new found-footage horror film in the vein of “The Blair Witch Project” and “Paranormal Activity”. Granted, it does fall under this genre of film, but it is more like a government conspiracy movie with horror aspects to it.
It was an interesting movie to watch as the “truth” behind what's on the moon and how much of it the U.S. Government knew about going in is unraveled. This is sure to start up a new wave of conspiracy theorists trying to debunk the moon landings (I say a “new” wave of them, because in the 80's/90's there were many articles, books, and documentaries that arose claiming that we never actually landed on the moon and that the televised moon landing was all created Hollywood style in a movie studio... as crazy as this claim sounds, some of the evidence the nay-sayers put forth is pretty convincing).
The acting in this movie is decent, though other found-footage films had superior acting (“Paranormal Activity”, “Cloverfield” and “Trollhunter” spring to mind as very well acted movies).
The editing is absolutely CRAZY in this movie. So much so, that much of the movie felt displaced and far too chaotic. In the movie, there are numerous video cameras set up in and around the lunar lander as well as on the astronauts themselves. The images are cut back and forth from one camera to the next with such rapid regularity that it becomes a jumbled mess that resembles an amusement park ride more than a movie... and I don't mean a fun ride like a roller coaster... more like one of those nauseating rides where you're spun around in circles at rapid speed where everything outside your cart just jumbles together until you finally upchuck your lunch!
Also, this movie relies solely on “jump scares” as it's freighting aspect. There were a couple of small edge-of-your-seat scares... but most of the time the only time my pulse raced was when something suddenly and violently leaped at the camera. This is a cheap tactic and while it got the job done of causing me to gasp and jerk, it hardly made “Apollo 18” feel like a legitimate horror movie.
“Apollo 18” is definitely worth a viewing... but you might be better off waiting for the DVD.
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