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Belittling Horror Excessively: Apollo 1806:00 PM -- Wed October 16, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Although Apollo 17 was officially the last manned mission to the moon, it turns out there was actually an Apollo 18 mission. It was top secret because they were deploying some kind of missile detector or something to beat the Russians with. Then everyone involved was horribly killed, so probably best kept secret. Until, that is, the enterprising makers of this movie "uncovered" the footage in 2000something and shared it with us all! So brave. Found footage ensues.

Scariness Type: Little bit o' jump scares, little bit o' gore, mainly your usual found-footage tricks: waiting and watching, wondering what's going to be in the corner.

Rating: 2.5/5 Moon Rocks.

Body Count: 5

Best Moment: All the astronaut business in general was extremely realistic feeling, and I'm fairly certain they mixed in actual NASA footage, and they did such a good job that the real stuff looks just like the fake stuff. At least in the early going. Once they're actually on the moon, it gradually gets more and more movie-ish and feeling less real. Especially when the CGI monsters show up.

Worst Moment: Something I really didn't like in this movie is that they took the fun part of found footage - watching the corners of the screen, trying to spot the horrible lurking thing - and removed the game from it. Several times during the movie, they artificially zoom the shot and even put a highlighting circle around the scary thing you're supposed to see in the otherwise empty shot. Ostensibly, this is realistic - this is a 'documentary' and the makers want you to catch that stuff, they're trying to inform the public. But in reality, this is a horror movie, and that's just a total joy-killer.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: One thing I really couldn't figure out was why these guys were carrying flashbulbs to illuminate dark craters instead of a perfectly ordinary flashlight. Maybe it's some technical thing related to actual space travel, but what I really think is that they did it for the classic found footage trick of seeing a pitch-black room in just a series of flashes of light, and waiting for the one flash that's going to reveal the big scare.

Horror Tropes: Blood drip from above! Whoo! Then there's stumbling around in the dark until you encounter a dead body and screaming and running (Dead people can't actually move, relax). And while it's not really horror tropes in general, this movie was full of found-footage convention - setting up motion-sensing cameras (not that useful on a non-horror-movie moon) and then going to bed for the night, demanding that you keep filming when you never would, making sure your camera is pointed the right way, and all that. It was like transposing the rules of found-footage horror onto the moon.

My Take: I was hooked at first. This is, by orders of magnitude, the most expensive found footage movie I've ever seen. Huge sets (they're on the moon!), spaceship interiors and exteriors, a lunar rover, all kinds of things. Things that would be nothing special in a normal movie, but found footage usually costs like $20 to make because they just go out in the woods or in somebody's house and film whatever's there. It also has real actors in it (the main astronaut is a guy from the show Alphas), which is kind of funny for found footage, but I actually appreciated the nod to the audience - "Look, we both know this isn't actually real, so we're not gonna hire no-names just to try to pretend." And just the style and appearance and sound of all of it really seems like legitimate NASA footage from the era. I even think they filmed some space stuff in zero-G (not in space, mind you, but on an airplane). That could be trickery, but it looked right. So where did this great mockumentary go wrong? With the monsters. They weren't scary, and there just wasn't much suspense about them, they were kinda just right there. The astronauts didn't know that, but we sure did! Especially since the filmmakers zoomed in on them for us. I think they had a ton of potential here to make something amazing, if they had just come up with a more spooky threat. The whole space psychosis angle which was caused by the monsters was a lot more interesting of a threat than the monsters themselves. They practically had a "Here's Johnny!" moment. It might have been a better movie to just have an astronaut go crazy for perfectly normal reasons, and I don't even like "guy goes crazy" movies (I want supernatural stuff!).

Missed Opportunity: What this movie needed was... well, any monster other than little rock spiders. The monsters were a total let-down and not at all scary. Give me moonghosts! Space Ghosts?

The Lesson: We should fund NASA! Pure science and space exploration leads to all the incredible advances we need in every other area. Let's GO TO MARS!!! But the moon first. Come on, is there any reason we don't have a functioning moon colony right now? It's sickening.

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