Hey, remember The Apparition? It’s okay if you don’t. The film snuck into theaters at the end of August, looking all slick and spooky, managed to con $9 mil worth of suckers into seeing it, and quickly faded away. From the script to the screen, The Apparition offered absolutely nothing new to the genre and didn’t bring anything exciting to its tried and true tropes. The best that can be said is “at least it’s not found footage.” So why bother with a review of the Warner Bros.’ Blu-ray? Because the special features are more entertaining than the movie. Find out why after the jump…
The prologue details some “experiment” back in the 1970s where a group of people tried to conjure up a spirit by thinking about it at the same time. Jump to the present and some college kids try to recreate the same experiment. Like some kind of zesty five-year-old, Tom Felton exclaims “If this works, we’ll prove that ghosts exist!” You can’t argue with that kinda enthusiasm! Something goes wrong and one of the kids gets killed by the apparition they conjure. Since the whole point of the experiment was to summon this thing, I guess you can say nothing “went wrong.” The experiment worked, these goofs just didn’t know how to control it.
Jump forward a few years and one of the college kids, Ben (Sebastian Stan) is settling into a new house with his girl Kelly (Ashley Greene). We get to spend a lot of time with Ben and Kelly. In fact, after the prologue, there’s about 10 minutes of them shopping. Then Kelly checks her emails and talks to her mom on the phone. Then they play video games. It’s really engaging stuff.
Weird things start happening in the house. It starts rotting from the bottom up and Kelly begins to hears voices. Ben assures her the house can’t be haunted because it’s “too new, it has no history.” Kelly doesn’t believe him though and she runs out of the house in her underwear for all the right gratuitous reasons. Ben’s old colleague Patrick (Tom Felton) has been trying to contact him all through this. He’s figured out that it’s them that are haunted, not the house. That’s been a plot point in a lot of supernatural horror films lately (Insidious, the Paranormal Activities) and The Apparition brings absolutely nothing new to the table.
Written and directed by newcomer Todd Lincoln, The Apparition suffers from empty characters and zero momentum. The two leads are about as deep as a bird bath. The only actor who seems to be trying is Tom Felton. I hope he’s able to shed the Draco Malfoy burden and pick up some good roles. There’s no sense of suspense and any trace of it is erased by a tedious scene of Ben and Kelly fighting. The closing shot is pretty cool, but it’s spoiled by the movie poster. When it happens in the film it’s not scary, you’re just thinking “Oh, that’s from the poster.”
The Blu-ray/DVD set does manage to offer The Apparition some redemption in its special features. Honestly, even if you think the movie stinks, get the disc from Netflix or Redbox and watch the features. They’re more entertaining than the movie. Director Todd Lincoln is surprisingly absent from all four features. You see some shots of him behind the camera, but he’s never interviewed to provide some insight or make excuses. Wise choice, Mr. Lincoln.
You know who is in every feature? Joshua P. Warren: ghost consultant. This dude is a trip. He consulted on the film to ensure accuracy in the paranormal investigations and the tech. In his other-wordly baby troll voice he goes over the instruments used in the film, including those electric spectrometers that people are always waving around on ghost hunting shows. Y’know, they point it at objects and go “Mmm, I’m getting a strong reading from this.” Then nothing happens.
Warren goes on to discuss people’s electric energy field, the ghost legends of Asheville, NC, and some other supernatural topics. Whether you believe in this stuff or not, Warren is very knowledgeable and well-versed.
Then we come to the kicker. The final feature, “Experiment of The Apparition,” shows Warren and his gang of investigators trying to recreate the experiment from the film’s prologue. They do it in Warren’s “secret lab” where they perform “controversial experiments.” One wall is a garage door so I assume the lab is in his house.
His team is a hodge-podge of misfit investigators. One of them brings along special “ghost glasses” he made. Another is named Mobius and he helps hook up Kee Kee to some machine that’s supposed to expel her thoughts into another room. Or something. There’s also a “medic” on hand in case anything goes wrong. It’s a good thing nothing did, because the medic looks like she’s 16 and shops exclusively at Hot Topic. Maybe she’s a Wiccan, I dunno.
So they all think about an apparition at the same time. Warren, Ghost Glasses, Mobius, Kee Kee, and Mall Goth Medic. Nothing happens but that doesn’t frustrate the gang. Warren’s conclusion? “Well, we got enough to say we did the experiment.” Case closed. It’s one of the craziest special features ever and makes The Apparition worth renting.
Warner Bros. presents the film in 1080p high-def in 2.4:1 widescreen with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Dolby. It looks and sounds fantastic. The photography itself isn’t particularly impressive, but what’s on the screen looks great.
Overall it’s a lousy movie that’s worth the rental for the batshit special features.