Despite an eerie premise, The Apparition quickly squanders any of the chills the opening sequence managed to create and instead presents a “by the numbers” haunting movie that fails to give the audience one real scare.
Written and directed by Todd Lincoln, the film stars Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan, Tom Felton, Julianna Guill, Luke Pasqualino, Rick Gomez, Anna Clark, and Marti Matulis.
The film opens with grainy documentary footage of 1973 experiment, called "The Charles Experiment," where six people attempted to contact a dead man named Charles Reamer by staring at a drawing of his picture in hopes of harnessing their combined psychic powers to summon his spirit into the room. This opening sequence is the scariest moments of the entire film.
The story then jumps to four college students, Patrick (Felton), Ben (Stan), Ben’s girlfriend Lydia (Guill), and Greg (Pasqualino), as they attempt to recreate the Charles Experiment. They put a modern spin on the experiment by amping up their concentration through the use of technology designed to give them 400 times the power of the original experiment. They are also using a small statue of Charles rather than a drawing as their focal point. Naturally, the experiment goes horribly wrong, and Lydia goes missing under supernatural circumstances.
The story then jumps again to some time later with Ben no longer a student and living with his girlfriend Kelly (Greene) in a large home that was recently built in a still basically empty subdivision. Kelly works as a veterinarian’s assistant and the couple is able to afford the house rent thanks to Kelly's parents who own it.
One night, the couple discovers burn marks all over one of the counters and the doors wide open - despite the fact Kelly is sure she locked them. Things continue to get worse for Ben and Kelly as the neighbor's dog dies, and they notice more burn spots and foul smells coming from within the house. They also hear strange noises, and see shadows moving across rooms.
Ben suspects a supernatural presence, but doesn’t want to alarm Kelly – who is unaware of what happened to Lydia or Ben’s ghost hunting past. He also discovers that Patrick attempted the experiment a second time, but on an even larger scale and has been trying to put back the entity they were able to call into their experiment.
Before he has a chance to come clean about his past, Kelly discovers a video of his experiment and the two come to the conclusion it isn’t the house that is haunted. The spirit instead is haunting them. Patrick arrives with plans to reverse the experiment and send the spirit back where it belongs, and the film shifts into supernatural overdrive.
At the beginning of the story, The Apparition had a lot of promise and looked like it might even provide more than a few scares. The plot took elements of a traditional haunted house story, threw in some story elements from 1982's the Entity (one of my personal favorite supernatural horror films), and mixed in enough sci-fi jumble to make it seem believable. However, all those elements were wasted thanks to the film so predictable it fails to deliver a single scare and a cast with next to no chemistry.
Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan are talented actors, but they are wasted in the film. Greene is given very little to do in the film - other than be scared and look good in very tight clothing. Stan has a larger role to play, but even his character lacks any kind of development. There is also no explanation to the fallout of the first experiment or if anyone in the world noticed Lydia suddenly went missing.
Felton provides the one redeeming performance in the film. His character is the only one trying to correct what went wrong the first time, but he also seems to be doing it only to further his own research. Even with the best intentions of helping Ben and Kelly, Felton comes off as untrustworthy and just a little creepy. I wish he had more screen time or his character could have gotten some kind of evil twist.
On Blu-ray the film looks solid and comes with some decent special features for those who enjoy the idea of ghost hunting and the supernatural.
The Apparition isn’t a horrible movie, but it also isn’t a scary one. The story had moments where it could have been great, but it never managed to live up to its potential.
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