The moon is covered in spider rocks. The rocks have legs. There are rocks, and they crawl around. On the moon. With legs. Attached to the rocks. That allow the rocks to skitter about. Like rocks with legs are wont to do.
That’s the great mystery of Apollo 18. It’s a found-footage version of Arachnophobia, only its set on the moon, and it’s slow and boring and not scary and there are only three potential victims. Worse: The spider rocks don’t even make themselves apparent until you’ve already completely lost interest in the film.
I know I’m spoiling it by giving away the film’s only secret, but I feel duty-bound to report it, to eradicate your curiosity so that it doesn’t pull you into one abominably shitty film. A man named Brian Miller, ankle deep in Angel Dust and Rollos, is responsible for Apollo 18’s screenplay. Apparently, he thought it’d be a swell idea to write a movie about three astronauts, after the flights of Apollo 14-17 were cancelled, who go on a secret mission to the moon in the early 1970s and experience a scary run-in with piles of rocks. With legs. No one knew about the Apollo 18 flight at the time, so the movie indicates, not even the families of the three astronauts. The astronauts are also unclear on the actual mission; the reason they are given by the Department of Defense is to erect a device that will help the United States with Cold War defense.
Once they arrive into outer space, two of the astronauts take a Rover down to the moon’s surface while the the third orbits around the moon for two days, sipping on juice boxes and earth-gazing. The two astronauts on the surface soon discover, however, that they’re not alone. In fact, as rotten luck would have it, a Russian cosmonaut had also recently secretly landed on the moon. Yzveenee? The two astronauts discover the cosmonaut’s corpse in a crater and brilliantly deduce that something amiss.
That something is rocks. With legs. That crawl around and are apparently capable of getting inside of space suits, biting astronauts, and burrowing beneath the skin. The science on this makes perfect sense, actually. Rocks don’t need an atmosphere to survive, so the moon is a perfect environment. Right? What about the legs? And the biting and burrowing, despite a lack of teeth? Oh, that’s just rock evolution, dummy. Survival of the fittest! Clearly, over millions of years, the rocks with legs simply won out through natural selection. Obviously.How could rocks without legs survive against rocks with legs?
If the glacial pacing, the lack of plot, the dearth of action, or the poor writing isn’t reason enough to avoid Apollo 18, recall also that it’s a found-footage film. Therefore, all the negative attributes described above are combined with bad lighting; grainy, blurry shots; and the inability to see much of what’s going on (or, what the director,
Gonzalo López-Gallego, calls “mood”). There’s also the incredible suspension of disbelief one must engage in to believe that two astronauts would insist on carrying video cameras around with them at all times. “Hey! There’s a rock with legs attacking my face. Let’s videotape it! The grand-kids will think it’s a scream!”
Then there’s also the matter of the spider rocks, which are exactly as terrifying as you’d expect rocks with legs to be. I mean, come on: Let’s be honest. How often do you find yourself walking on a gravel road thinking, “Man. The only thing keeping these rocks from being absolutely terrifying are spider-legs! If I saw one of these rocks get up and walk around, maybe even on my face, I’d shit myself with fear!”
Alas, there is nothing to fear in Apollo 18, except an unplanned nap. It’s an appallingly poorly made film, one that hits the trifecta of bad: A bad idea, badly executed, and performed by bad actors. On the bright side, however, it does offer another costume idea for this Halloween. Who wouldn’t want to go Trick r’ Treating as a rock with legs? If asked to perform a “trick,” you can simply toss yourself through a window.