BARE BONES: APOLLO 18 (2011)

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APOLLO 18 (2011)

Apollo 18 is a found footage horror with the interesting premise that there was a classified moon mission kept secret from the public…until now. The mission went horribly awry and we are supposedly seeing the actual footage from this secret 1974 moon launch.

Flick is directed by Gonzalo López-Gallego from a script by Brian Miller. The film does have some creepy sequences and the idea of a secret mission to the moon is intriguing, but sadly this film never delivers the scares and terror it sets out to. Even as our ill-fated astronauts realize that there is something very wrong with their top secret mission and they discover that they may not be the only ones there on the moon, the film fails to really generate the kind of tension it needs. There is a lot of screaming and things begin to become clear to us as to what is happening as the film enters it’s final act, but it never grabs us or involves us in the astronauts’ terror. Is it that we can pretty much figure out how this story will end? Is it that the lunar threat isn’t all that scary to us? Or is that the multiple cameras and camera media is too distracting to allow us to be drawn into the drama? Either way, the film fails as much as the mission it portrays. Too bad, it was a cool idea. Flick stars Warren Christie, Lloyd Owen and Ryan Robbins as the doomed astronauts.

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: OPEN GRAVE (2013)

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OPEN GRAVE (2013)

Open Grave begins with a man (Sharlto Copley), who has lost his memory, waking up in a massive open grave filled with corpses and a gun. He’s rescued by a mute Asian woman (Josie Ho) and finds his way to a nearby house occupied by a group of people who also have no idea who they are and how they got there. The house is filled with weapons and there are gruesomely displayed corpses strewn about the woods and property… as well as some ominous cages. Now this group must try to trust each other and figure out who they are and why they are here in this secluded house surrounded by death… and something else. More importantly, who has done all this and is that person among them?

Written by Chris and Eddie Borey and directed by Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego (Apollo 18), Open Grave is quite an effective horror/mystery that is best enjoyed by knowing as little as possible going in so, I won’t spoil any important details… though I always try not to. The film starts us out with some gruesome imagery of Copley’s character awakening among a pile of corpses which is enough to set a forbidding tone and then places him among likewise people who have no idea why they are there amidst some very disturbing carnage. Lopez-Gallego builds some very strong tension and paranoia as the group tries to figure out who they are and why they are here and who has committed such atrocities and why. Is that person among them?… or watching them from somewhere else? The answers are fed to us slowly and we learned bits and pieces along with the characters with some solid horror movie moments added in so, we never relax and it fuels our curiosity even further as to what is going on and how this all came about. And when we find out, is when the characters do and it’s all a very effective ride and a refreshing twist on whatever kind of horror movie it turns out to be. The film does have a more moderate pace then most horror films today but, also has a nice visual style by the director and cinematographer Jose’ David Montero and we have a movie that looks as unsettling as it is.

As for the players…the cast are all very good at playing the fear and paranoia of being stuck in a nightmarish situation with little or no knowledge of what is happening. Copley is a strong lead who is trying to figure out who he is and what part he has played in all of this. Josie Ho is very effective acting only with her eyes as the mute woman who seems to be somehow key in this nightmare. We also have Thomas Kretschmann who ads to the tension, as a very paranoid member of the group who does not  trust Copley’s “John” in the slightest and Erin Richards who acts as a stabilizing element and seems to be the levelest head in the group. Rounding out are an equally effective Joseph Morgan and Max Wrottesley as the other group members. A good cast whose performances help make this flick work.

So, overall, Open Grave is a very effective and suspenseful horror/mystery that is not without some strong action and some very gruesome moments. Sure it’s a bit more moderately paced but, it reels you in with it’s opening scene imagery and then slowly feeds you a trail of blood soaked bread crumbs till all is revealed in the final act. Director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego crafts a very strong thriller that shows the potential he displayed in the sadly disappointing Apollo 18 was not a fluke when the man has a better script in his hands. Recommended!

3 and 1/2 stars… as I don’t want to give away any details with a more movie-centric rating!

three and one half stars rating

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