“Apollo 18” confuses the viewer as it cobbles together a very good conspiracy tale with a bad B movie.
Moments of this are genuinely suspenseful and frightening. The premise offers a delightful mix of NASA space mission and alien creatures.
It’s yet another “mockumentary” purporting to be based on true and secret footage. Officially, Apollo 18 never happened. There were loads of fun theories about extraterrestrial spaceships on the moon that were claimed to be real revelations from Apollo 20’s crew and you can look those up on many web sites, if you care to do so.
I get vaguely irked by the “Blair Witch”/”Cloverfield”/”Paranormal Activity” jerky camera technique. Yes, I know it’s supposed to make it all more real, but my eyes find it amateurish and reminiscent of student films.
Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego made 2002’s lovely “Entre abril y julio” but his direction in “18” lurches from stylish and original flourishes to sheer boredom, often in the same frame.
We start out with some standard NASA heroes at home footage, then move quickly to the mission to the moon. Strange things start to happen.
When the aliens come, they are truly original and beautifully done. But it takes more than half of the 86 minutes of this to get to them. And too many of those 86 minutes feel long.
For me, the problem is that so much of this has been done much better in Duncan Jones’ “Moon”. In “Apollo 18”, I am genuinely bored by NASA, which is one of the most interesting subjects in the world to me.
The 15 genuinely scary minutes at the end are worth seeing. The use of light and shade is rather beautiful and the moon settings feel very real and eerie.
The Stratford Picturehouse audience – all five of us – were seen to fidget more than we would wish to.
If you love space films and need to see them all, do go see this. But I doubt it will trouble anyone’s top ten of the year list, excepting, perhaps, that of the director’s parents.