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John’s Horror Corner: The Apparition (2012)

August 27, 2012

MY CALL:  This unfortunate attempt to combine elements of the Poltergeist (1982, 1986, 1988), Pulse (2001, 2006, 2008)and Paranormal Activity (2007, 2010, 2011, 2012) franchises fails on all accounts leaving only mediocrity in its wake.  No good scares, tired effects and an unengaging story leave me with but one suggestion for you:  SKIP ITWHAT TO WATCH INSTEADPoltergeist (1982, 1986), Pulse (2001)and the Paranormal Activity (2007, 2010, 2011, 2012) franchise.  TRAILERClick here to go to my Trailer Talk.

The Gist—The concept is interesting enough.  Some young attractive folks test a theory that ghosts only exist because we believe in them.  Ergo, to believe in a ghost can facilitate the manifestation of one.  It works, “it” is pissed, and it haunt-hunts them down one by one.  The imagery and F/X strategy feel just like Pulse (but with Grudge-y dirty ghost hands).  Like I said, the “concept” is interesting—if only watching it unfold in this movie was, too.

The movie begins when Patrick (Tom Felton; Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Ben (Sebastian Stan; Political Animals) and Lydia (Scream Queen Julianna Guill; Friday the 13th) re-enact a famous séance called The Charles Experiment in hopes of manifesting a ghost.  They succeed and we are deprived of enjoying any more screentime of Julianna Guill as she is Pulse-sucked into/through a wall.

With no explanation of what happened in the ensuing years, life goes on and Ben is now living with his new girlfriend Kelly (Scream Queen Ashley Greene; the Twilight saga) in a quiet housing development just like the one in Poltergeist.  However, when strange things start happening in their home, he realizes that the ghost he had summoned years ago has found him.  Not wanting her to “believe” in the apparition, he passes off weird happenings on kids playing pranks and faulty electrical connections.  When things get a little too scary for comfort, he reunites with Patrick to help combat the ghost.

The actors all do fine—nothing stellar, but actually good for a horror release.  Greene is credibly rattled, Stan does fine, and it was nice seeing Felton play a non-douchebag.  However, the paranormal effects were random, uninteresting, unimpressive, and even felt gratuitous.  Doors open, a dresser shifts six inches, furniture is rearranged and lights go out—never in an effective manner that may make you jump or feel tense or uneasy.  Then there was the Pulse-y haunted slime mold…which looks like giant a cat threw up in the corner of their ceiling.  What is that thing?  Do evil wasps live in it?  Does it smell?  It looks like it seriously smells!

So, they start finding slime mold deposits around the house.  It’s gross and looks like a honey-combed, rotten, zombie, yellowjacket nest.  Evidently this is symptomatic of an evil presence.  While it’s gross, it serves no real purpose in the movie other than devaluing Ben and Kelly’s house and demonstrating that the filmmakers really didn’t know how to handle this movie.  Or the ghost itself, in fact, as it is depicted in multiple forms so different I’d struggle to agree that it was only one ghost with one motive and one supernatural skill set.

Biggest Horror Faux Pas:  The most nerve-wracking scene in the movie—which really wasn’t that effective, just the most effective—involved a supernatural smothering bedspread assault on Kelly.  Such a tactic was employed in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and it was very effective even with limited effects.  However, in The Apparition, I was troubled for different reasons.  You see, evidently Kelly was using rubber sheets to solve a bedwetting problem because this bedspread was somehow suffocating her.  Later in the movie, the ghost just uses some powerful telekinesis to suck someone to their doom in the laundry room.  Why didn’t it just use that power?  In fact, why was it playing with light switches and feng shui for the last hour of running time?  They explain the ghost’s motives in the movie and they don’t explain this behavior.

There she is under the deadly bedspread.  There he is stuck to the ceiling; another part of this scene sampled from A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Second Biggest Horror Faux Pas:  The greatest idiocy of the movie was in how “the team” tries to eradicate the ghost in end.  They go with the old “satanic metal band album played backwards” routine.  You know.  Just play the EEG recording signal (produced when they manifested the ghost) in reverse and it should send the thing back to Hell, right?  That makes sense, right?  Maaaaybe not.  I think the writer was thinking of summoning some evil thing by playing a death metal album in reverse—like in one of my old favorites: The Gate (1987).  But never does playing the album “forward” send the demon back to Hell.

Basically, everything about this movie is stupid and inconsistent.  Don’t see it unless you simply have a hankering for seeing Ashley Greene in her underwear.

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