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STUDIO Warner Home Video
RUNNING TIME 82 Minutes
• Featurette: The Dark Realm of the Paranormal
• Featurette: Haunted Asheville
• Featurette: The Experiment of The Apparition
• Featurette: The Apparition – A Cinematic Specter
A hilariously bad haunter.
Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan, Tom Felton, Todd Lincoln
When frightening events start to occur in their home, a young couple discover they are being haunted by a presence that was accidentally conjured during a university parapsychology experiment. Their last hope is an expert in the supernatural, but even with his help they may already be too late to save themselves from this terrifying force.
I normally don’t like when critics describe the plot of a film in detail in their reviews, but I feel certain films, like this one, make excellent exceptions. The best way to tell you how The Apparition made me feel is to give you a taste of the experience.
Since one prologue is never enough, The Apparition opens with two of ‘em, and they’re essentially the same scene twice. During the second prologue, Tom Felton plays Patrick, a paranormal technobabble expert who goes down to what appears to be the belly of the Nostromo with a couple of his nerdy buddies. They’re trying to summon a spirit using all sorts of fantastical gadgetry, and obviously, it works. Things don’t go well for Patrick and his fellow young scientist types, because a chick ends up disappearing into a wall, a gag that’s been seen several times before, and that we’ll see again before the film ends.
The story then picks up sometime later, where Twilight Saga alumnus Ashley Greene plays Kelly, a pretty girl who works at a veterinary office. She can’t even file papers convincingly, so she is presumably fired because she never goes back to work again in the film. It turns out she’s just moved to a house in the suburbs on the edge of the California desert. Her boyfriend, Ben, played by Sebastian Stan (The Winter Soldier himself), is tagging along because the couple evidently needs a new place to keep all their Apple products.
Kelly suddenly feels the urge to buy a saguaro cactus, and exclaims: “Let’s go to Costco!” So naturally, we spend a few minutes in Costco with this attractive couple, as they playfully bicker about buying a slow cooker and a tent. Since you can’t fuck your girlfriend in a slow cooker, Ben buys the tent. This seemingly happy couple doesn’t appear to have any friends, so they spend their first night in the house playing Street Fighter.
Shit starts to get very ghostly when Kelly’s cactus suddenly shrivels up and the neighbor’s dog comes over to their place to die. Lines like “Our house is too new to be haunted!” and “You can’t leave, you’re not even dressed!” occur, and we start to realize that Ben may have had something to do with Patrick’s ill-fated paranormal experiment. Kelly, learning that Ben’s ex-girlfriend was the one who got sucked into a wall, goes looking for the killer ghost against her better judgement. It’s an honest-to-goodness “bitch, get out da house!” moment that might be one of the stupidest things committed to celluloid in 2013. It’s glorious.
In desperation, Ben calls Patrick over to spout some more meaningless technobabble, and boy does Felton deliver. “It’s like a bomb shelter for brainwaves!” he cries, desperately trying to explain the function of a highly dubious device. We get a few more scares, and one of them is so cut-and-pasted from The Grudge that you can practically see the Elmer’s glue on the screen. It’s fucking bananas, you guys.
This flick is a treasure trove of gems like the moments above. The acting is bad all around, the dialogue reads like it was punched up by Tommy Wiseau, and most of the scares appear to have been stolen and had their serial numbers filed off. It’s dreck. But here’s the surprising thing: I think there’s a lot fun to be had in The Apparition.
There are a few things that genuinely work in the film, like Daniel Pearl’s great cinematography, the foreboding atmosphere of the desert suburb, and a scene where Kelly is nearly suffocated by the sheets in a hotel bed. The sheet effect appears to be done totally practically, and it looks incredible. It feels like a knowing nod to fans of Poltergeist. It’s quite clever, and one of the film’s few truly creepy moments. However, at the end of its mercifully short running time, what I enjoyed so much more about The Apparition were its numerous flaws. The film is forgettable enough that it won’t ever achieve true infamy, but if you want to watch an enjoyably bad film, I’m heartily recommending this one. Watch ’til the end. I won’t spoil exactly what goes down, but I will say that the film brings us back to where the magic happens: Costco.
I probably would’ve liked the disc’s special features if they were actually about the movie. Instead, all of the featurettes center around paranormal expert/radio host Joshua P. Warren. He served as a consultant on the film, making sure the film’s ghostly encounters were accurate. We get a few brief soundbites from the cast, but absolutely nothing from writer/director Todd Lincoln. No interviews, no commentaries. I don’t even think we see him at all.
The single strongest thing about this set is the presentation. It’s nearly fucking pristine. The black levels are inky, and the sharpness of the image is crisp without showing any obvious edge enhancement. The film was shot on 35mm, so there is a lovely fine grain that persists throughout. The 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio track is great too, with some good use of the subwoofer. There’s also a DVD copy and an Ultraviolet copy included with the set. Have fun with this one.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars