Tuesday, May 6, 2014

3 Short Paragraphs: Apollo 18

2011, Gonzalo López-Gallego (Open Grave) -- Netflix

The trouble with scifi as horror is that it often dispenses with the wonder of space for the act of being scared of it. In one movie, say Gravity, a character will look through their visor and see the wonders of the stars and the sun rising over the earth. In a horror movie in space, they will see only the emptiness of the void and suffer some sort of traumatic reaction -- ignoring the idea they would be tested for that. In a discovery space movie, even one tinged with horror, say Europa Report, there is wonderment and delight at finding new life or a new place.  In a cheap horror, that new life wants to eat you and that is pretty much all. In Apollo 18, it asks the question we didn't know to ask, "What happened to Apollo 18?" With Apollo 17 being the last branded mission, only this found-footage tells us what happened on this fate-less mission.

With a cast of Canadian TV regulars, whom you cannot name: Warren Christie (that guy from Motive), Lloyd Owen (ok, not so familiar) and Ryan Robbins (that guy from Sanctuary, Falling Skies), we are shown a final Moon landing mission shrouded in secrecy. If found-footage, it is from crappy low-definition cameras known about at the time, but in order to give us some non-grainy footage, a new hi-def camera, the first of its kind, is added to the roster when they reach the Moon. They only know they are there to install some equipment, some sort of transmitter. But almost immediately (one of those cliche descriptive phrases that applies to so many horror movies I watch), things start to go weirdly wrong. Who moved the flag? Whose footprints are those? The dusty Russian lander and dead cosmonauts tells them they might need to know more about their mission.

** SPOILER (why you care, I don't know) **

Suffice it to say they discover an unknown life form on the Moon -- walking spider rocks. And the walking spider rocks are E-eee-vil. Or at least they act with no real motive but to fuck with us and infect us. They hide in plain sight, they sneak out of the corner of our eyes, they burrow into us from inside spacesuits and when it is most appropriate (boo!!) they revert back to spidery legs and run around. There is no rhyme or reason but to scare us and those poor astronauts. The movie doesn't even hint that earth scientists might want to capture this life form. In a twist of cliches, the earth scientists would rather abandon the astronauts on the Moon than have them bring the life forms to Earth.  Ohmigawd, the rocks have legs, fuck dat shit, we are not touching that!! And thus we don't know about the mission and we haven't been back to the Moon. I dunno, a pet spider rock could be cool as long as he didn't try to eat me.