Apollo 18 is an immersive blend of science fiction and horror with a twist. That twist is the found-footage gimmick. Some ten years after The Blair Witch Project it had nowhere to go but up, to space. And as a science fiction fan, I approve of this move. Oddly enough, just two years later we will get another found-footage movie set in outer space, Europa Report. So, what we have here is one of those movies claiming to be based on true events. As you can guess this is only partially true. The concept is rather simple but very effective. Take some unusual and big event that really happened and build around it a broader narrative.
I don’t want to go into details because they would all be spoilers. This is a strange little movie and if you’re not in the mood for something a bit different, you might find it boring. You will feel at times like you’re watching a documentary about a mission to Moon. However, maybe this is something that you’ll like, just like I did. I liked its almost educational nature and that feeling of being in outer space. The pacing is deliberate and it slowly builds this eerie atmosphere. You know that things are going to take a turn for the worse, the only question is when. I guess Moon is a harsh mistress.
If you’re wondering how long you will have to wait before “something happens”, the answer is 15-20 minutes. Cleverly maintaining realism, they slowly start reeling you into the story that’s full of mystery. The special effects are excellent, especially when you consider the budget of just $5 million. The movie was shot on old camera lenses from the seventies giving it an authentic look. And the cast also did a great job, especially Lloyd Owen as Nate. They make you wonder why didn’t we go back to the Moon since the sixties?
The official story is that after the only successful Apollo mission, all the others were canceled. However, three astronauts did board the Apollo 18 back in 1973 looking to fly to the Moon. What happens next is anyone’s guess as we don’t know much about this mission. To right that wrong, someone uploaded the video footage astronauts sent back to the Internet. These are their stories.
What can I say, place me on another planet or moon and I’m fucking golden. This is why I liked Apollo 18 so much even if it’s a found-footage science fiction movie. It’s clever, visually impressive, and features quite an original plot. I’ve seen the other two Moon movies but they were nothing like this one. So, just to be clear, we’re talking about Moontrap and The Dark Side of the Moon.
I also have to mention one of my favorite movies of all time, Moon starring Sam Rockwell. It’s an example of what can be done with a small budget, a great story, and an amazing actor. Finally, with a running time of just 75 minutes, Apollo 18 is an effective and intriguing little movie. Towards the end, it gets really intense and fucked up. So, if you’re in the mood for something a bit different, do check it out.
Director: Gonzalo López-Gallego
Writers: Brian Miller, Cory Goodman
Cast: Warren Christie, Ryan Robbins, Ali Liebert, Lloyd Owen, Andrew Airlie, Michael Kopsa
Fun Facts: Gerry Griffin, who worked as a Flight Director for every manned Apollo mission, served as a technical advisor.