Directed by Gonzalo López-Gallego
September 2, 2011
A secret mission to the moon encounters strange and dangerous creatures.
I must start off by saying I have a soft spot for monster films. It has been that way since I was a kid. My diet then was mostly of movies from the 50s or 60s about irradiated insects or my personal favorite the original version of The Blob. A movie like Apollo 18 then is right up my alley.
Apollo 18 is one of those found footage films from back when they were all the rage. The premise here is Apollo 18, a real scheduled mission that was canceled, was actually flown as a classified lunar mission. What we as the audience is viewing is recently discovered footage of that previously classified mission. I enjoyed that slight twist on the genre there.
They do a very good job of making it look like old footage which not only lends to the authenticity of the environment they are trying to create but also helps hide any shortcomings this lower budget film may have had in its production. The resolution and clarity we see reminds me of those old overused filmstrips from high school.
The special effects are minimal with most of what you see appearing to be sets. The rock creatures aside, the only other notable effect is the Russian lander rising from the surface at the end. It looks like one of those shitty zoom shots they would use back in the day before CGI where a static photograph will just come closer and closer to the camera.
The costumes look authentic. I am no expert on NASA space suits or uniforms but what they have here looks very believable from what I have seen in old pictures. They do not look like they halfhearted it and chose instead to create stuff that at the minimum fit the era.
There are only really five cast members. Three of whom are seen as they are part of the mission crew with two others being heard only. Who we have actually seen is Lunar Module Pilot Captain Ben Anderson (Warren Christie), Commander Nate Walker (Lloyd Owen), and Command Module Pilot Lieutenant Colonel John Grey (Ryan Robbins). Everyone here is not too well known. Ryan Robbins is possibly the most famous one having appeared in Stargate Atlantis as occasional nemesis Ladon Radim in the show and on the Battlestar Galactica reboot.
Our astronauts believe they are going to the moon to set up some type of early warning system for ICBMs. The truth is it has something to do with the creatures they encounter though what that is never becomes clear. They are bug like things that look like moonrocks. One could surmise that this mission was sent up after a similar Russian mission indicated by the lander they find failed. It is important to note that the Russians have never actually landed on the moon.
This is a film where the whole cast gets screwed by the end of the film. Those types of stories can be a hard sell to me because it usually all feels forced. Generally the first few deaths work logically with the final few being forced and coming about because of illogical or moronic decision making on the part of the character. Not so much here. The characters act intelligently in the universe of the film and nothing really makes you go “That’s dumb!”
Writer Brian Miller makes nice use of fact at the very end of the film. In a text epilogue they give what happened to Anderson, Walker, and Grey (at least the official cover story) and they also mention the number of moonrocks that are currently missing on the planet with the implication being that they were actually bug creatures. I do find that a little questionable though since the bug creatures clearly reacted before anybody could make it back to Earth. You would presume the same would happen on any other mission they find themselves taken by but then that bit of logic would screw the story here.
Apollo 18 is a fun space monster movie. It has a good premise and is an interesting twist on the found footage genre. Watch it!