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John’s Horror Corner: Apollo 18 (2011), pretty much a story about moon rock spider biology and unlucky astronauts

January 6, 2012

MY CALL:  Solid story-telling and a nifty idea, sadly ill-complemented by poor delivery from no follow-through on that nifty idea, make this movie tolerably entertaining.  However, the Hof and I could never recommend this one for those looking for scares or great sci-fi-horror twists [C-].  WHAT TO WATCH INSTEAD:  I really expected something more like White Noise, Paranormal Activity or its sequel (but not Paranormal Activity 3).  You know—slow, observation-based, tension-building creepers.  IF YOU LIKE THIS, WATCH:  If you want weird, creepy or space mission-gone-wrong maybe try Mission to Mars or Red Planet.  Hellishly wrong?  Then Event Horizon or Pandorum.  DRINKING MOVIE STATUS:  Please do.  TRAILER: Click here and read how excited I was about this movie.  Key word: was.

This movie was way worse than it’s prequel Apollo 13–if they only managed to sign Tom Hanks again this would have been a hit.  Not the case, though.  Had there been a shortage of Bad Movie Tuesday material, Apollo 18 surely would have been a candidate.  This movie had some serious potential…

[Soylent green.  Don’t eat it.  JUST SAY NO.]

1.  A somewhat over-played, but still neat idea.

Yeah, I know.  Alien infestations span SyFy movies-of-the-week (Contamination) and box office hits (Species, Alien) alike.  They’re just plain fun, often full of “oh shit” jumps that leave you smiling and excited for whatever’s next.

2.  Characters that you care about.

The backstory was elaborate and allows us to invest in these guys on this mission.  They’re regular guys (other than being astronauts, of course) who care about grilling, beer, their families and are stoked to launch into space.  Just the “aw, shucks” appeal that you don’t want to see getting Slapchopped by some aliens.

3.  Excellent use of a super-tiny budget.

The effects may have clearly been of dated quality.  But it didn’t matter a bit!  Everything I needed to see could be viewed as well as it needed to be.  I never wanted for more.  That takes careful planning.

This probably all sounds like a big bunch of awesome, right?

[“HELP! I’ve got a thing inside my thing!”]

So what went wrong?

Random things happen with no explanation.

Don’t get me wrong.  It was exciting that I never knew why Michael Myers wanted to kill his sister in Halloween.  Not everything needs to be explained.  But damn, some things do?  We see dudes get “infected” in two different ways.  We have no idea if the infection is the aliens’ toxin, or just space bacteria.  We only seem to encounter one alien species…so what the shit are they eating up there on the moon!?!?!  And don’t you tell me each other unless you’re prepared to be lectured on ecology and evolutionary biology!  These aliens also have the best camouflage of all known organisms ever.  May as well have been magic!  Oh, right, and why did this mission even launch?  You could come up with a reason.  But when you see how the movie ends, you realize there is no good explanation justifying this mission.  Wait!  I know the reason…so that they could make this movie while not having to stress over good writing and a coherent story.

[He should have used protection.]

I’m at the end of my rope here.  So here’s a brief SPOILER:  this movie is about “rock spiders.”  You heard me right: rock spiders!  Or, more like rocks that are werespiders!  Here are some examples of what I think the alien should have looked like instead…werespiders!

P. S.     I feel guilty that I was entertained by this movie.

[Thank God for gamers and RPG geeks that can draw, right?]

John: OUT!

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