I’ve only ever walked out of one film in my entire 23 years of watching movies. It was the 1998 remake of the television series The Avengers starring Uma Thurman and I absolutely hated it, and I was able to tell it was the worst movie ever at the tender age of ten. Since then I usually stick out movies come hell or high water that is until I saw Apollo 18. Now I didn’t leave it, but I truly wanted to get up and request a refund after 45 minutes of absolutely nothing happening. In the found footage genre I’m not asking for high art, but I’m at least expecting to have fun. Apollo 18 is a boring mess with a ridiculous story, frustrating acting and some of the worst attempts at horror that I’ve seen in awhile. I’d go so far as to declare the winner of the worst movie of the year with this film, and that’s saying something!
The Apollo space missions to the moon were discontinued in the early 70s due to budget cuts. Apollo 18 tells the story of a top secret NASA mission to the moon in 1972 organized by the Department of Defense. The two astronauts are meant to go up and distribute some satellites but they’re shocked to discover Russians and aliens!
A lot of things could have made this movie better but we have to call a spade a spade, this movie is crap. I don’t normally look at my watch during movies but after about twenty minutes I kept looking at it constantly. At about the 45 minute mark I considered leaving. That’s how dry and boring Apollo 18 is. It has no suspense, no horror, and no story. Every scene is a rehash of the same routine: they do something with the satellites, they talk to each other, and they hear strange noises. It’s apparent that director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego has no idea what to do to keep the story going. When something scary does happen the film actually rewinds and shows in slow motion what you’re supposed to have seen! If the audience can’t see it the first time don’t you think it’d be easier to just show it flat out instead of rewinding and slowing it down? If the suspense doesn’t hit you through the slow motion there’s always the soundtrack consisting of the beating hearts of the crew. Is this a movie or a student art film? It’s almost pretentious at times!
The movie is being advertised as a horror film, and if anything it should have focused on the psychological impact of being confined in space…but it doesn’t. Instead the “aliens” are laughably stupid (SPOILERS they’re freaking rocks with legs! END SPOILERS). When they’re on screen it’s for a split second or in total darkness so you never see them. I don’t know if that’s a budget issue or because the special effects never panned out but in the found footage genre you either are forced to show the audience everything or leave it ambiguous.
When the suspense and the horror are entirely absent from the screen you’re left with two boring as paint actors as the astronauts Ben and Nate. Actors Owen and Christie have no chemistry as friends and the third astronaut is so boring I don’t even remember his name. The lack of connection to the characters is the most egregious part of this film. You never care about them! You get about two minutes to learn about the astronauts in the mission before they’re thrown into the story. You don’t care about them because you have no time to get to know them. You learn Ben has a wife and kid but that’s only through a twenty second home movie of a backyard BBQ and Ben replaying a recording of them. It’s said that Nate is divorced and that’s it and the other guy is just there.
The movie is billed as an hour and 26 minutes but I clocked it at an hour and fifteen. I’m all for a brisk pace to a movie but this movie has 2 minutes of setup and 84 minutes of nothing else. It leads me to believe no one behind the scenes knew what to do or else there would be some type of filler. The Russian storyline is just left abandoned. We never know if the Russians truly sent up someone and what happened. Even delving into that could have padded the runtime and given us something to see.
Instead the movie devolves into borrowing from other movies (if I have to hear that clicking alien noise from Signs in one more thing I’m going to scream) and jargon. At times the actor’s dialogue is incomprehensible through the echoes in the suits, the excessive amounts of military and astronaut jargon and even one scene of an actor just screaming into an intercom. When this happens I actually poked my brother and asked what the guy just said…my brother shrugged his shoulders.
Apollo 18 is a sloppily made movie from a director whose ability to direct I question. This movie didn’t deserve a theatrical release; it’s a direct to DVD film that’s so boring I wanted to physically demand my money back. Go see Blair Witch or Paranormal Activity, anything other than this!
Author: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief
Kristen Lopez is the editor-in-chief of CC2K and a freelance pop culture essayist. Her work has appeared on Roger Ebert, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Daily Beast. When she’s not burning down Film Twitter she runs two podcasts, the female-centric film show Citizen Dame, and the classic film-themed Ticklish Business.