Welcome back, kids! When I woke up this morning, I had intended to watch and review a good ol' fashioned slasher flick, and I even had a couple in mind, but then I came across this movie on Netflix. Being the science fiction buff that I am, 2011's Apollo 18 seemed right up my alley. Let's launch right into it, shall we?
Apollo 18 is a found-footage-style film, giving it a grainy 1970s documentary feel. The opening alleges that several hours of footage were uploaded to a lunar conspiracy theory website and that the film has been edited from the available footage.
We meet our three protagonists, American astronauts Ben Anderson, Nate Walker, and John Grey. Being part of NASA's cancelled Apollo 18 mission, the astronauts are elated when their mission is revived in order to undertake a classified mission for the Department of Defense. Under a veil of secrecy, even to their families, Apollo 18 launches, and Nate and Ben make a successful, albeit rough, landing on the lunar surface while John stays in orbit to await their return. Once on the surface, Nate and Ben begin unpacking the equipment for their mission, including a set of transmitters sent by the DOD to act as an early warning system against Soviet nuclear missile launches.
Once activated, the equipment emits a frequency that causes severe, unsettling interference with their communication equipment, but even more puzzling, the astronauts begin to hear strange sounds outside the lander, and samples collected from the lunar surface seem to move on their own. When the men exit the lander and find a set of footprints that don't match their own, they realize they're not alone on the Moon, and set out to search for signs of life. When they discover a damaged yet functional Soviet lander not far from their landing site, they begin to question the true purpose of their mission, and a series of unsettling circumstances soon become full-blown terror as everything they thought they knew about Earth's closest neighbor is proven to be wrong.
First of all, I hate shaky cam movies. God, I hate them, but I put that revulsion aside for what I hoped would be a good story. The film did explore some interesting concepts, such as long-running conspiracy theories about lost cosmonauts. While these tragic ideas are fun to read and speculate about, most have been thoroughly debunked... or that's what they want you to think, comrade. Seriously, the Russian angle was easily my favorite part of the story.
How was the rest of the story? Eh... it was all right. The alien illness affecting one of the astronauts was pretty much a paint-by-numbers plot device we've seen a million times already, as were its symptoms. I caught myself looking at my phone a few times as boredom overtook me, to be honest. One thing the film does well is convey the sense of claustrophobia within the NASA spacecraft, but that's really all it has going for it on the spooky scale in my opinion. There are a few jump scares, including one particularly good one that I rewound the movie to watch again.
Overall, the film's a mediocre creature feature with a neat concept. If you're looking for real terror, I'd skip this one and just watch Alien instead. If you enjoy a little sci in your fi and like a good conspiracy theory, however, give it a view on Netflix.