Last week, during our family's Disney cruise, I spent time in our little cabin room keeping company with my son who was on official quarantine due to flu symptoms the ship's doctor was concerned about. But that's a whole other story. While keeping vigil, I came across this little movie the ship was streaming on TV called "Apollo 18."
I remember seeing an ad for it once, thinking it looked cool, then never heard about it again. I'm guessing it never really took off in the theaters when it came out last fall. I missed it then, so I was excited to have a chance to see it.
It. Was. Awesome.
Now, I don't know if anyone else in the world would like it, but it's as if someone stuck a syringe into the center of my brain, sucked out the very essence of stuff I think is cool and turned it into a movie: Cold-War-era astronauts, moon landings, scary corpses, alien creatures, suspense, and action. It's all there in "Apollo 18."
I'm also finding that I'm a big fan of documentary-style fiction films. Movies that are made to look as is they're real-life footage, shot from a person experiencing an event. We all remember the "Blair Witch Project," which has spawned movies shot in a similar fashion like "Cloverfield," "Quarantine," "Paranormal Activity," and others. When it's done well and creatively, it can be an effective device that pulls you deeply into the story.
For this movie, by way of background, NASA's Apollo program conducted 17 missions through the '60s and '70s. If your history book has gathered a little dust, Apollo 11 put the first men on the moon. Tom Hanks' movie "Apollo 13" tells the true story of the 13th mission that ran into some mechanical troubles (a great movie in its own right if you haven't see it yet). The Apollo program ended after the 17th mission.
"Apollo 18" is based on the premise that there was an 18th mission that no one knows about. It was a top secret launch, with ulterior motives unbeknownst to the three-man crew sent to the moon on this mission. It didn't exactly go well as things go from weird to downright eerie for the two men sent to the moon's surface. The movie is made up of the the footage shot by the crew documenting their experience. Much of the movie has a grainy 8mm feel to it.
I'm sure if I were a real space aficionado I could poke holes left and right through the accuracy of the science and history the movie is based on, but the lay fan of a good suspense film that I am, I just went along for the ride and loved it start to finish.
It reminded me a little of "Moon," which I also quite liked. The moon makes for such a perfectly so-peaceful-it's-creepy backdrop for a story. I've had a couple moon-based short fiction stories bumping around my head that I need to get down on paper. Anyway, if you're into sci-fi and suspense, definitely check it out. I loved it; two thumbs way, WAY up. Here is a peek at the trailer for "Apollo 18":