Review: 'The Apparition'
BY MICHAEL SMITH World Scene Writer
Saturday, August 25, 2012
8/25/12 at 4:03 AM
"The Apparition" is a horror film that is more annoying than it is frightening. That's largely because there is some potential to this story of a malevolent spirit harassing a couple, but it's never quite realized.
Writer-director Todd Lincoln - a Tulsa native and Holland Hall graduate making his directorial debut in feature films - has created a things-that-go-bump-in-the-night kind of thriller, and he concentrates on creating atmosphere, rather than showing us too much, and nothing gory.
The trouble is that he seems to also be working from the idea that "what is seen cannot be unseen," so he decides to show us almost nothing when it comes to what's making those noises.
I hate to say that it often feels like nothing much happens, but the picture doesn't have a ghost of a chance with this script.
Lincoln and his cinematographer, Daniel Pearl (of multiple "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" movies) show off a kinetic visual style, beginning with an opening experiment by college science students who are intrigued by paranormal activity and armed with technology.
Their idea: set up machines and bells and whistles in an attempt to make contact with "the other side" and bring to life an apparition, with Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy in the "Harry Potter" pictures) leading the charge.
Something goes wrong, as it so often does, and we progress a few years into the future, where we meet Kelly ("Twilight's" Ashley Greene) and Ben ("Captain America's" Sebastian Stan), a young couple housesitting/renting a new McMansion in a California desert community.
Problems develop from the start, and I don't mean with any spirits, but with the couple as written.
We learn that Kelly works at a pet clinic and aspires to be a veterinarian, and Ben is a home-theater technician, and that's all we know about these two. Their likes, dislikes, hopes, dreams, anything else - unknown. They don't seem to have a thought in their pretty little heads.
"You're pretty great," Kelly says with a furtive smile. "You finally noticed," Ben retorts, woodenly.
This is representative of their conversations. Insert scream here. There are too many scenes that end abruptly, seemingly because no one knows what to say.
I haven't seen souls this empty in some time, which is more frightening than the noises that start reverberating throughout the house.
Greene looks great in the film (an opportunity to see this stunning young actress outside of Alice Cullen vampire makeup), and she does the best she can at not freaking out, which is about all she's asked to do.
There's only so much energy she and Stan can direct toward characterization when they spend most of their time turning their heads at sudden noises and seeing nothing, in addition to saying almost nothing.
What does happen in the first 24 hours or so that we meet them - finding a moldy fungus that looks like a haz-mat team should be called, as well as watching a neighbor's dog enter their utility room and die - would be enough to make us reconsider the living conditions.
They're renters, for goodness sakes.
I realize that Lincoln is trying hard to make us imagine these events as if they were happening to us, and as if they could be real, and feel empathy toward the couple. The modern setting feels immediate, and the technology employed is a nice touch, if sometimes as confusing as wiring your own cable system.
But a few paranormal scares in the last half-hour don't make up for the fact that the movie isn't spooky, that we don't know the characters well enough to care about them and that the ending simply ends, like so many of those conversations, because apparently there's nothing else to say.
Cast: Ashley Greene, Sebastian
Stan, Tom Felton
Theaters: Cinemark Tulsa,
AMC Southroads 20
Running time: 1 hour, 22
Rated: PG-13 (terror/
frightening images and
Quality: (on a scale of
zero to four stars)
Original Print Headline: Nothing to be seen here
Michael Smith 918-581-8479
Luke Pasqualin (left), Tom Felton and Julianna Guill appear in a scene from "The Apparition." Warner Bros. Pictures/Courtesy