A PG-13 horror movie demands some subtlety without boring one’s audience to death for lack of anything bad actually happening. It doesn’t necessarily mean that every “scare” must be generated by a jump shot, but writer and director Todd Lincoln disagrees. This is his first attempt at helming a feature film, and it will very likely be his last as well. Lincoln constructs a “ghost” story by cobbling together iconic elements from previous movies (Paranormal Activity; Dark Water; Ringu; The Grudge; The Pulse; Insidious) in a very un-iconic manner. The movie can best be described as a live-action version of the “South Park” take on “Ghost Hunters,” only The Apparition never meant to be funny. Of course, this movie also borrows a page from the recent influx of “found footage” films; or at least, it does so at the very beginning when the movie opens with two seances, one from a 1973 “experiment” and a modern replication. From there, the movie veers off into the most boring pile of nothing ever wrapped up into a horror film that’s actually scored a theatrical release. So expect many spoilers to follow because, let’s face it, I actually give a crap about you people and don’t want you to watch this movie even on Netflix.
Naturally, the two main characters of The Apparition are a clueless, non-reactionary male and an apathetic female. Sebastian Stan and Ashley Green are either two of the most brilliant actors in the world for coaxing this lifeless script to death with utter perfection, or they’re accomplices in a cinematic crime for the ages. In the future, audiences may very well compare their horror-viewing experiences to this one; as in, “Terrible movie, man, but at least it wasn’t, you know, Apparition bad.” At any rate, Greene and Stan play Kelly and Ben, respectively speaking, a young couple who aren’t yet married but still manage a state of boring domesticated bliss when they move into a lovely, newish home located in a desert-located subdivision full of foreclosed homes. Naturally, these young kids seem to have a hell of a lot of disposable income for two relatively unseasoned unprofessionals, so they go shopping at Costco for an entire fifteen minutes.
Then nothing happens. Except a lot of mysteriously banging doors, some particularly aggressive mold, and the rearranging of a closet. It’s a ghost, y’all, and we’re supposed to believe that it’s the survivor of an ongoing aftermath of a scientific experiment led by three college students (including — SPOILER ALERT — Ben) to prove that ghosts exist simply by creating one in their minds and willing it to exist. The experiment, unfortunately, was a success, and Ben’s girlfriend at the time, Lydia (Julianna Guill), met an immediate end at the hand of the conjured up spirit. The survivors of the experiment, Ben and his buddy Patrick (Tom Felton, Draco!), are still haunted. Naturally, Tom never reveals his history with the paranormal to his lady love. What a dick, right? Let that be a lesson to all impressionable young lovers out there — never move in with a person unless you’re absolutely sure they’re not being stalked by a malignant presence.
For her part, Kelly doesn’t seem to care about the ghost as much as the fact that Ben created this spirit with his dead girlfriend (like, she’s actually jealous), and she’s even more apathetic when a dog walks into the house and promptly kicks the bucket. And of course, Ben walks around with a baseball bat as a means of protection even though he clearly knows it’s a fucking ghost. Good luck with that, buddy. Going to a hotel doesn’t help because the ghost follows them and does stupid things like pull a sheet over Kelly and glue Ben to the ceiling. At a certain point though, the ghost goes way too far by killing Kelly’s cactus (lovingly purchased at Costco, which plays such a bizarrely huge role in this movie that it might as well be considered a main character). Then the shit is supposed to hit the fan, but it doesn’t. Ever. What does this ghost even want? Is it just fucking with people for the hell of it? Apparently so, because its motives or desires or wants are never revealed.
So what’s the hook of the movie? Once you actually believe in the ghost, you die. Or at least, that’s how the marketing department tried to play the game, but the film is an entirely different creature. The main problem is that this movie is so goddamn boring. Nothing fucking happens. Obviously, it’s a low-budget picture, which shouldn’t cut in on the pleasure, i.e., the scares. So many other horror pics of the past, present, and future have demonstrated the ability to scare the hell out of audiences on shoestring budgets. With The Apparition, the script seems content to just throw in whatever familiar tropes come to mind with the idea that somehow, something in this movie will scare the viewer. And it just doesn’t work. There’s no art and no method to putting together these ideas and scenes. They just seem to happen.
Of course, there is a shower scene with no real skin showing other than shoulders, and Ashley Greene shows off her perky butt cheeks in some ridiculously chosen, PG-13-friendly lingerie. Throughout the movie, the acting is horrific and much scarier to behold than any of the events that actually take place in The Apparition. Greene’s butt cheeks do well, but I’m guessing you can probably check those out in Maxim instead of watching this non-scary “horror” movie that would probably qualify as unintentionally hilarious … if only it weren’t so fucking dull.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.