It's fitting that mold plays such a significant role in "The Apparition." The PG-13 horror film has been growing some mold of its own sitting on Warner Bros.' shelf, waiting to be released.
Now, after being pushed back almost an entire year, it's finally (and unceremoniously) being released, albeit into a miniscule 810 theaters, making it one of the studio's smallest nationwide releases. Jeez, Warner Bros., it's almost as though you don't want people to see this movie.
It seems the studio's precautions are entirely validated, as "The Apparition" offers very little in terms of entertainment and even less in scares.
"Twilight" cast member Ashley Greene stars as Kelly, a young veterinary student who's renting a nice new house with her tech support boyfriend Ben ("Captain America"'s Sebastian Stan). The couple is cute and happy until a serious of strange unexplainable events start bothering their comfortable life. Doors blow open, strange ash appears on the counter and mold starts growing everywhere. A dog even dies, though frankly, it looked more like the dog just went to sleep. I sympathize with him.
It turns out several years earlier, Ben was involved with a strange college experiment with a British colleague (Tom Felton, better known as Draco Malfoy from "Harry Potter") who wanted to create a ghost with the sheer power of belief. Of course, it went horribly awry, and the consequences are now haunting our band of attractive post-grads.
Even with the most basic of horror movie premises (ghost haunts people), "The Apparition" manages to be far more confusing than it needs to be. Characters' motivations and actions become almost impossible to understand. The film's climax involves some kind of ghost extermination involving strange blue lamps that I honestly couldn't attempt to explain.
First-time writer/director Todd Lincoln's script can't even seem to decide what the ghost is. The college experiment was based on a thin, gaunt man named Charles (a decently creepy image for specter), but later in the film, it appears to be a black-haired girl in the vein of "The Grudge." An embarrassingly lazy voiceover monologue by Felton near the end attempts to put the pieces together (something about portals), but by that time, most of the audience has probably checked out.
"The Apparition"'s main function, other than scaring tweens, is to hopefully jump-start Greene's post-"Twilight" film career. Unfortunately, Greene, who ironically looks like a happier Kristen Stewart, brings very little to screen. The screenplay manages to put her in several stages of undress, which may endear her to the young males in the audience, but she doesn't have much charisma.
The supporting characters don't fare much better. Stan fades right into the background as Greene's boyfriend. There are a few moments when the character could feel guilt for his past actions and present consequences, but Stan looks more sleepy than remorseful.
Potterheads may be excited that Felton is in a rare non-sniveling role, but he is less of a character and more of a fountain of convoluted exposition. His interactions with Greene and Stan tediously play out like a conversation between three planks of wood, but one of the planks is British.
Lincoln admittedly has a decent eye for visuals, even when the logic of a scene escapes him. A sequence involving an excessively clingy bed sheet while Stan's disembodied soul watches from the ceiling is at least interesting to look at, even though it makes no sense in the story (the ghost may have the power to teleport people, which is the only way I can make sense of a scene in which Greene, attempting to escape a room with a ghost, nails herself in the same room).
The director's grasp on pacing is just as loose. The first half of "The Apparition" feels very rushed, plowing through scenes of failed tension and atmosphere building. As the film reaches its final act, however, it feels surprisingly long, quite a feat considering the running time clocks in well under 90 minutes. The official runtime says 82 minutes, but almost ten minutes of that is the end credits.
At least that means "The Apparition" is mercifully short. Even shorter, however, is the time you'll spend forgetting its existence. You can't say Warner Bros. didn't try.
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