We need a saguaro. What? No, no, not the shitty pizza place in the mall; it's a really big cactus. Ha! No, I don't know how I'm going to fit it in my Jetta. Do you think they sell 'em at Costco? I don't know. We
need to go to Costco anyway, so we might as well look. Okay, toilet paper...a barrel drum of chipotle mayo...hmmm, I don't know where the giant cactus aisle is. Oooh! Camping stuff. We should go camping. I know it's outdoors and weird and stuff, but I'll totally let you do me if you'll go. Ugh, I'm really behind on my gardening. I swear, these daffodils are never gonna bloom. Are you done putting up those security cameras yet? After you finish that, maybe we could grab something at Applebee's. I know! I just really want one of those maple butter pecan blondies. But the other thing is that Chun Li is so played out, and anyone who's paying attention knows how much more awesome Cammy is, and I...hey! You just spilled Barq's all over our brand new carpet! I think we still have some of that Woolite foam stuff under the sink. No, the other side. No, the other other side! Seriously, you don't see it? We should go bowling tomorrow. Do you think there's a bowling alley near here? I know we're out in the middle of nowhere and all, but there are bowling alleys everywhere.
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Okay, stretch that out for half an hour or whatever, and you're pretty much lookin' at the first act of The Apparition. I gotta admit too: I was enthralled. Dead-eyed, vacant, awkwardly smiling Ashley Greene seizing every excuse to lean over, she and Sebastian Stan swapping cutesy, tin-eared dialogue to compensate for the gaping void of chemistry in their on-screen romance, the fact that this supernatural fright flick opens with twenty-someodd minutes of chores...I desperately wanted to see just how far The Apparition was willing to go with all that.
Yeah, yeah, I'm obviously being snarky here, but I get what The Apparition is trying to do with all this. If you let the audience really get to know these characters -- if they start to feel more like people and less like flickering images on an HDTV -- then the stakes really matter. When the supernatural elements finally rear their nasty little heads, you're more invested, the tension's ratcheted up even higher, and on and on and on. Where The Apparition goes wrong is...well, kind of everywhere. The movie's bogged down by reams and reams and reams of clunky, uninspired dialogue. The Apparition rests on the shoulders of a supposedly longtime couple who have absolutely no spark between 'em. Ashley Greene has both the looks and the acting
chops of an inflatable sex doll, Sebastian Stan is nothing but dead air, and Harry Potter alum Tom Felton is mostly there to bark out exposition near the end. No one in front of the camera exhibits anything resembling a personality. There's no emotional or dramatic hook. The Apparition takes for-fucking-ever to get going, which would be okay if it had compelling characters, an intriguing story, or anything along those lines as a driving force, only...yeah, not so much.
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Eventually, there are signs why the movie's called The Apparition and not Doing Chores and Shopping at Costco and Stuff. The general idea is that a while back, Stan and Felton -- uh, their characters, I mean, not them personally -- tried to use willpower and good ol' American engineering to manifest some sort of spirit. Their first attempt sucked Stan's ex into a wall. Several years later, Felton and what's left of their crew give it another go, kicking the experiment up a couple hundred notches and -- oops! -- sending the specter screaming towards suburbia. Since The Apparition is a very, very, very, very shameless ripoff of Paranormal Activity, it doesn't take a whole lot for the ghost to get its kicks. Where did all that dust on the counter come from? Oh no, that door was closed, and now it's not closed anymore! No one's home right now, and yet the garage door just opened! That's weird...I don't remember tying all the clothes in my closet in a bunch of knots, and yet here they are, beknotted. The Apparition does get a little bigger in scale and scope as it plods along, but it can't muster a single, solid jump scare, it's completely devoid of any tension or suspense, and it's lazily thumbing through the same playbook as 237,000 other horror flicks before it. There's nothing really new, inventive, or memorable going on here. For crying out loud, there's a pretzel-limbed, ghostly white girl coming out of a dryer. Is it 2004 again? The Apparition fails to capitalize on the sense of isolation it tries to establish early on, and although the concept of slowly-encroaching suburban rot has a lot of potential, the movie never really figures out what to do with it.
I don't know. There are a couple of disorienting reveals that I thought were pretty well done, but other than that...? I'm struggling to think of anything worthwhile about The Apparition. On pretty much every level -- the screenplay, the direction, the performances, the glacial pacing, the paint-by-numbers scares, an ending that's pretty much the cover art -- it's...aargh. In the running as the worst of the class of 2012. Skip It.
The Apparition looks okay in high-def, I guess. Obviously the battered 16mm stuff, home video footage, and security camera schtick -- because Paranormal Activity! -- are more than a little bit rough looking, but that's a pretty tiny percentage of The Apparition's overall runtime. Definition and detail are fine, although the cinematography skews a bit to the soft side, rarely managing to impress all that much. Colors are every bit as gloomy and desaturated as you'd waltz in expecting 'em to be, and black levels are consistently robust. Despite its anemic bitrate, The Apparition's AVC encode doesn't struggle all that much, although shadows can get kinda noisy. Pretty much nothing about the presentation made any impression on me whatsoever, so...yeah.
The Apparition is served up on a single layer platter at an aspect ratio of 2.39:1.
The only particularly smart move The Apparition made was hiring Academy Award winner Dane A. Davis to tackle its sound design. This is a movie that definitely demands to be experienced in 5.1, with unnerving
creaks and slammed doors attacking from every direction. The Apparition also benefits from a fairly healthy low-end, with that EEG reversal output thingie unleashing some pretty devastating waves of bass. As aggressively uninspired as the droning synths in the score can be, at least it's packing a low-frequency wallop. Dialogue's consistently balanced cleanly and clearly in the mix. I can't say I always felt that boost in clarity and resolution I expect out of a 24-bit lossless soundtrack, but I'm not disappointed or anything.
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Along for the ride are Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs (640kbps) in Spanish and Portuguese. Subtitles are dished out in English (SDH), French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Você acha que eu posso comprar um cacto gigante no Costco?
There's borderline-zero behind-the-scenes stuff on The Apparition. Outside of a minute or two of lightweight EPK interviews with the cast and crew in one featurette, pretty much everything revolves around Joshua P. Warren, the movie's supernatural consultant
- The Apparition: A Cinematic Specter (4 min.; HD): After the cast finishes recapping the premise of the flick -- 'cause it's not like you just finished watching the movie or anything -- Joshua P. Warren explains what a ghost consultant does, exactly.
- The Dark Realm of Paranormal (5 min.; HD): Seems like the title's missing a "the" in there somewhere, Ricky Sargulesh. Anyway, featurette numero two-oh is a more formal introduction to Mr. Warren as he begins delving into the mechanics of the supernatural and how the paranormal is just science that isn't understood yet.
- Haunted Asheville (8 min.; HD): Granola and guh-guh-guh-ghosts! Warren G discusses the haunted history of the sleepy North Carolina mountain community of Asheville, including a ghost hunt in a haunted mansion. Is this haunted room actually stretching, or is it your imagination, hmmm....?
- The Experiment of The Apparition (9 min.; HD): Warren and a few of his pals attempt to recreate the inception-type experiment that kicks off all the supernatural shenanigans in The Apparition. Nothing happens, but...oh, wait, there's a bunch of text at the end saying that an entity was created and started doing all sorts of terrible things and I wish you could see it but you can't but it was really scary I promise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
You know the rest of the drill. DVD combo pack. UltraViolet code. Slipcover.
The Final Word
Nope. Skip It.