[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B005PNYJJ0][/pullquote] The found footage genre of film-making was first created in 1980 with shock horror Cannibal Holocaust. However it wasn’t until The Blair Witch Project was released in 1999 that it became a regular story-telling device. Usually used as a means to heighten realism and create a scary amosphere, good examples in recent years include REC., Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity and The Last Exorcism. 2011 saw the release of Apollo 18, a found footage film based on the premise that there had been a secret mission to the moon.
December 1974 and the Apollo 18 spacecraft that the public thought had been cancelled is sent to the South pole of the moon. Upon arrival Benjamin Anderson (Warren Christie) and Nathan Walker (Lloyd Owen) they discover a Russian spacecraft and the remains of its cosmonaut. In the hours after the discovery the crew begin to experience strange events and soon decide that it’s time to get off the face of the moon before anything else goes wrong.
Similar in style to The Blair Witch Project, Apollo 18 tells its story through a series of somewhat familiar camera shots reminiscent of those used on the Apollo 11 moon landing. Unfortunately the novelty soon wears off and you start to wish that they just had a simple, clear shot of something, anything really that isn’t the corner of the lunar module or the obviously stolen real footage of the first moon landing. We finally get the first proper static shots that take place within the lunar module once its landed on the moon. It is reminiscent of Paranormal Activity‘s bedroom shot, which trains the audience to expect something unusual to happen.
This camera angle also provides some much needed time for characterisation of Christie and Owen’s astronauts and both men give incredibly grounded and realistic portrayals. In fact they are the best thing in the film, with some of their behaviour, interaction and conversations genuinely funny and help to provide some strength to the terrible things that are about to befall them.
The revelation of what’s actually happening though is a disappointment. Where Blair Witch kept the revelation out of camera shot, Apollo 18 shows us glimpses of the threat, which as is so often the case, immediately removes the tension and fear. There is also a rather glaring factual problem at the end of the film, that seems to have been ignored by the film-makers, but that I can’t divulge for fear of ruining the plot.
So for a film that had so much potential and a genuinely intriguing premise, the execution is not impressive and despite the film only running for 86 minutes, it feels a lot longer, with the early scenes really dragging.