The Apparition
Warner Bros. // PG-13 // $29.98 // November 27, 2012
Review by William Harrison | posted December 3, 2012
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There is little else to say about The Apparition that Adam Tyner didn't hilariously detail in his review, but here goes nothing. Remember when Dark Castle horror flicks used to be kind of good? Well, The Apparition is a really bad movie, horror or otherwise. Too-pretty-for-this-shit Ashley Greene gets terrorized by a specter unloosed when a group of college students attempts to summon the spirit of a dead man. After approximately six hours of pointless exposition, The Apparition lurches forward into some of the least scary horror scenes of the year. Was there a script for this or just a two-page outline? How much did they pay Draco Malfoy to show up and speak in nonsensical scientific jargon? Could "Gossip Girl" alum Sebastian Stan look more bored? Should you watch The Apparition? I can only answer the final question: NO!

In 1973, a group of students disturbs the spirit of a recently deceased colleague. Years later, a second bunch of apparently bored co-eds amplifies that experiment with modern technology to disastrous results and one girl goes missing. Vet tech Kelly (Greene) lives with her boyfriend Ben (Stan) in a mostly vacant subdivision. Strange mold starts popping up in the new home, and doors open and shut at will. It seems something was unleashed during the aforementioned experiment, and the ghostly antagonist begins to bother Kelly as she washes her hands, cooks dinner, shops at Costco, cuts the grass, paints her nails, sets up her cable box, checks Facebook, eats at Chipotle, visits with neighbors, folds laundry, watches a movie, takes a nap, calls her mom, and makes smoochy faces in the bathroom mirror. If anything, said apparition displays a tremendous tolerance for tedious activities.

The Apparition begins with a good 45 minutes of Kelly and Ben's uninteresting daily activities before a couple of things finally happen. First, mold appears out of nowhere on the walls and floor of the previously unblemished house. Spooky. Then, the couple awakens to find the front and back doors wide open. They install security cameras, which, in one bush-league scene, stop broadcasting. Kelly decides to sleep outside in a tent. Ben continues to ignore frantic e-mails and texts from Patrick (Tom Felton). The audience knows Ben and Patrick were part of the neo-experiment, and Patrick wants to warn Ben that something escaped! Kelly is, understandably, not thrilled when she finds out she has been dragged into the middle of this ethereal clusterfuck.

For a while there, Dark Castle Entertainment, Joel Silver and Robert Zemeckis's production company, released some entertaining, primarily R-rated thrillers. Their House on Haunted Hill remake is gory fun, and the opening mass-death scene of Ghost Ship is great. Check it out if you haven't. Recently, Dark Castle branched out to other genres, releasing films like Guy Ritchie's RocknRolla and Taken pseudo-sequel Unknown. Their horror offerings, meanwhile, have suffered, and The Apparition follows the basically-direct-to-video films Whiteout and The Factory. The Apparition serves up the worst in PG-13 horror: zero suspense, laughable acting and dialogue, and a complete disregard for continuity and structure. The story is so slim here that it can barely support a 22-minute TV episode much less an 82-minute film. I guess that's why we are treated to all the filler scenes before the film begins to make its point.

There are no rules for all the commotion. The film's tagline is "once you believe you die." When Kelly starts to fear the dark forces, she becomes a target. The filmmakers apparently gave zero fucks about creating a consistent antagonist. At first it's supposed to be a man, then it shows up as Samara from The Ring. The apparition is never menacing, and I half expected it to turn into Casper the Friendly Ghost.

By the time Felton returns, The Apparition is two miles deep in awful. The English actor provides a voiceover for the inane climax and attempts to set some guidelines for spiritual terrorizing. Those might have been nice earlier in the film, Tom. The Apparition is Capital-D dumb, and both Greene and Stan look completely bored throughout. I would label Greene a terrible actress if I didn't think she was barely trying here. I can't blame her sleepwalking through such a stupid movie. Warner Brothers unceremoniously dumped The Apparition into a handful of theaters last August for good reason. You've been warned.



The Apparition looks fairly unimpressive on Blu-ray, which is not shocking considering the 2.40:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer takes up barely 14 GB on the single-layer disc. The image never screams "high definition," and maintains a soft, smeary look throughout. Detail, texture and delineation are mediocre, and black levels are not particularly good. There are some nice colors and accurate skin tones, but I noticed plenty of black crush, aliasing and compression artifacts.


The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is better than the picture, and features some nice directional horror effects. Dialogue is crystal clear, and the surrounds are used for ambient and action effects. The surrounds support the requisite clunks and door slams of a standard thriller, and the score by tomandandy is better than the movie and nicely balanced. Spanish and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks are included, as are English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles.


This is the typical Warner Brothers "combo pack" that includes the Blu-ray, a DVD copy of the film and a code to stream an UltraViolet digital copy. The discs are packed in a Blu-ray eco-case, which is wrapped in a flat slipcover. There are a couple of brief extras: The Apparition: A Cinematic Specter (4:20/HD) features cast interviews about the story, and The Dark Realm of Paranormal (5:10/HD) explains the work of ghost consultant Joshua P. Warren. I never knew Asheville, North Carolina, was haunted, but Warren unconvincingly explains its dark secrets in Haunted Asheville (7:36/HD). Finally, you are treated to a recreation of the film's "Charles Experiment" in The Experiment of The Apparition (8:46/HD). Absolutely nothing happens on screen, but the piece ends with a text blurb explaining that some terrible entity was released on the world. OK...


Dark Castle unloads another stinker with The Apparition, a dull, dumb-as-dirt thriller in which Ashley Greene is chased by a mostly unseen and barely explained specter. The story here can be summarized twice in a single paragraph, and the film makes little effort to frighten. Too dull for a drinking game, The Apparition will quickly be lost to time. Skip It.

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