Apollo 18

The Weinstein Company

Review in a Hurry: Stalled horror concepts have been known to reboot with sequels set in space, often with success (Hellraiser: Bloodline, Jason X). Apollo 18 isn't officially Blair Witch in Space, but it comes close enough to make us remember what we liked about the whole notion. The "found footage" gimmick is overplayed, but all in all director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego (King of the Mountain) generates a nicely efficient slice of horror.

The Bigger Picture: In the second major movie of the summer to reveal that the space race covertly uncovered, er, more than meets the eye, a team of three astronauts secretly sent to the moon in the '70s must deal with their own mounting paranoia, and hidden terrors.

In reality, Apollo 18 was produced by Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov and edited by 3-D horror schlockmeister Patrick Lussier. Onscreen, it purports to be edited footage from a Wikileaks-style website (www.lunartruth.com) outing NASA's long-hidden last lunar voyage. Any doubts about the actual sourcing ought to be put to rest when flashbulbs make audible noises in a near-vacuum, or when the inside of a space capsule proves to have gravity more akin to a Vancouver soundstage than a moon crater. If you feel like the filmmakers are trying to fool you, this may rankle.

But it's really all beside the point. Actual leaked documents would probably cut straight to the chase, but we're allowed to spend time with this small cast of likable, relative unknowns (Lloyd Owens filled Sean Connery's shoes in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, while Warren Christie can be seen on Alphas) before the weird noises over their transmitters develop into power outages, followed by strange injuries, and then...well, it's really best not to read too much about the rest of the movie if you plan on seeing it.

For once, the lack of advance screenings does appear to be in the service of preserving story secrets from the public.

Suffice it to say that the suspense works, and the obligatory sequel hook genuinely intrigues us with its possibilities rather than merely threatening a retread.

The 180—a Second Opinion: This review is coming from a fan of both The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. Should your opinion be the polar opposite of that, Apollo 18 is less likely to be your cup of Tang.

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