'The Apparition' (2012) Movie Review

Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan and Tom Felton in The Apparition
Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan and Tom Felton in The Apparition
Photo: Warner Bros.

Clocking in at 74 minutes (not including end credits), the only thing scary about The Apparition is that any studio would think to charge you to watch it. This supposed supernatural thriller is a hollowed out shell of creaky noises, shadows and utter nonsense. There is little doubt as to why this film sat on a shelf for over a year, waiting for an empty weekend to con unsuspecting moviegoers out of their money, but if you end up paying to see this don't be ashamed to ask for your money back.

The Apparition
Grade: F

The Apparition"The Apparition" is a Warner Bros. release, directed by Todd Lincoln and is rated PG-13 for terror/frightening images and some sensuality.

The cast includes Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan and Tom Felton.

The film begins with a group of four college students attempting to recreate what is referred to as "The Charles Experiment", a fictional happening that occurred several years ago where a group of people were able to manifest an entity from the other side. Well, these kids want to do it again, using today's technology to amplify the signal and really get this otherworld ghost into our world. It works and things go horribly wrong to the point one girl even gets sucked into the wall.

Fast forward a few years and Ben (Sebastian Stan), who was there that day, has left the incident behind. He's now moving in with his girlfriend Kelly (Ashley Greene) and all is well. They go to a Mexican restaurant and she throws tortilla chips at him and laughs. They go to Costco and buy a cactus. On the way home Ben gets a phone call, he doesn't answer it, something is wrong... All the while an intrusive electronic score from Tom Hajdu and Andy Milburn (credited as tomandandy, yes, in all lowercase) plays over the scene, almost as if someone hit the wrong button.

Once Ben and Kelly get home strange things start to happen. Kelly's cactus dies, a weird fungus is growing, a dog walks into their house and dies and all of Kelly's clothes in her closet are tied in knots. What is going on?

Well, as it turns out Patrick (Tom Felton, aka Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter films), the leader of the college science group, decided to do the "Charles Experiment" again only this time with even more amplification and an attempt to trap the malevolent being they conjure into existence. It fails and, for some unexplained reason, the ghost runs over to Ben and Kelly's house to haunt them even though they had nothing to do with letting it loose.

From here a security camera walks across the backyard and other not-at-all-scary situations take place. It is honestly one of the most poorly thought out "scary" movies I've ever seen. Nothing makes sense and the audience has little investment, care or understanding as to what is going on or why. Even worse, it's not scary in the least as electronic gadgetry turns this into a some sort of Ghostbusters operation.

What was that? Get the EEG machine! Amplify the electrodes and reverse the polarity so we can trap it! Did it work? I think so! Oh no! Where did he go?!?!

I get the feeling writer/director Todd Lincoln was going for something ambiguous, believing what we don't understand is scarier, and in most cases that's true, but when all you give the audience are shadows, a few crazy visions and killer bed sheets you haven't done anything to scare anyone. At least I'll give him a little credit, the ending is so abrupt you're likely to think they forgot a reel. In fact, it could have ended about even earlier and perhaps run under an hour long, which would have been a real treat.

Perhaps I should be praising it for the minor miracle it was able to attempt to tell any story in the first place. I didn't come out hating The Apparition as much as I recognized the fact it doesn't even hold up to the slightest bit of scrutiny. The dialogue is a joke, the story is absent of any intrigue and reasoning is an afterthought.

The highest praise goes to the Warner Bros. marketing department who somehow came up with the tagline "Once you believe, you die." Even this makes no sense, unless I missed a seriously important piece of the plot, considering dying in this case has nothing to do with believing, unless you believe every shitty movie brings cinema one step closer to dying... In that case, the marketing is true.


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More Reviews
  • Irf

    Remember a time when horror movies weren't just made for American teenage girls?

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

      No, when was that?

      • http://www.twitter.com/GregDinskisk GregDinskisk


        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

          Well then who was Gandhi made for?

          • http://www.twitter.com/GregDinskisk GregDinskisk

            American teenage boys?

    • Margaret Thatcher’s purse

      Teenage girls? don't you mean teenage boys?? the torture porn genre was basically invented to stimulate sex-deprived nerds in the most perverted way possible.

      • http://www.twitter.com/GregDinskisk GregDinskisk

        I have several issues with this response... 1.) Irf is talking about horror in general, which lately seems to be for some teenage girls wanting something to pop up on the screen to make them scream, 2.) you make out all teenage boys to be nerds, and also classify nerds in general to be sex-deprived and needing something perverted to, excuse the expression, "Shoot their goo" (Death Proof, Earl McGraw), 3.) generally stereotyping things to a point of meanness, and 4.) your username is Margaret Thatcher's purse...

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

          I love a good Earl McGraw reference. Damn shame he's not in Django :(

          • http://www.twitter.com/GregDinskisk GregDinskisk

            Hahaha thanks! Yeah, I wished he was too. Oh well! That wasn't too awfully rude, and that made sense, right? Not #GoodComments worthy or anything?

  • http://www.rabidpictures.com Yaz

    Hm... Well at least the poster looks kind of cool. Ah well. Was anyone going to see this anyway?

  • http://cineenuruguay.blogspot.com/ Driver

    The last pair of lines are great. Good review, Brad.

  • Good Grief

    This looked like "The Grudge of the Ring Pulse" from the get go, sadly. It's good to know it's as bad as it looked.

    Great review, Brad.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

    "F" from Brad, 0% on RottenTomatoes. Ordering my tickets on Fandango now.

  • Eljah

    The trailer for this movie looked so jumbled from the getgo, I could barely understand what the hell the movie is about in the first place. Is it really so difficult to make at least a mildly scary movie nowadays? Would you recommend any solid recent horror films in the last 2 years?

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/lawhs89/ lawhs89

    I am shocked you saw/reviewed the movie Brad. I think you try to avoid the worst movies, so why did get "tricked" into seeing this?

  • whut-whut

    This movie sucked big time. And to get that guy from Harry Potter to play an expert on paranormal activity was just lame. They thought having him wear eyeglasses would make him look smarter? How predictable. This dude can't act to save his life.

  • http://www.plotspoiler.com Jason

    Is this The Cabin in the Woods review? Oops, I'm in the wrong section.

    • http://www.twitter.com/GregDinskisk GregDinskisk

      In this movie Brad claims they didn't even TRY to make this movie. I can't imagine anyone even claiming that they didn't try for The Cabin in the Woods.

      • http://www.filmending.com Jason

        The Apparition would have finished number #2 this weekend. Reducing the movie to 800 locations doomed the box office. At $3750 per location, The Apparition would beat The Bourne Legacy out for number #2.

        I wouldn't consider The Apparition a failure. in my opinion, The Cabin in the Woods is a bad movie. I got into many heated discussions on several of my movie websites for challenging The Cabin in The Woods. The genres created the real conflict. Whereas moviegoers are suggesting there is no twist, they known little about twist endings.

        Filmmakers can reveal clues to slightly inform the audience of a twist. The Apparition was projected to make $14 million in its opening weekend and $32 million overall. However, reducing the locations to 800 impacted the movie.

        The screenwriting in The Apparition is obviously flawed. We will discuss the screenwriting on TheScreenwriting to show what elements are missing. Emphasizing on parapsychology could have propelled The Apparition like Whannell did with astral projection.

        In any case, the 800 locations will doom The Apparition. We have proof the demand is good. However, moviegoers must travel far to watch the movie.

        • http://www.twitter.com/GregDinskisk GregDinskisk

          It seems like, with the $3-4k per location, that they'll expand a little bit more next week, maybe to a thousand or so theaters. It probably will make quite a bit of money, most horrors do.

          • http://www.filmending.com Jason


            The $3-4k average was the distributors hope to score a number #2 finish. However, the poor execution, cliche dialogue and lack of scares will influence the movie in the future.

            The $3-4K average will reduce another 50-65% in the second week. At this pace, The Apparition movie will exit movie theaters very soon. Expanding to 3,000 locations will collect $5-7 million in Week 2.

            Most box office websites elude to mention the 800 locations to bash on The Apparition's meager $2.9 million performance. It is fair to state the movie only screened at 800 locations. If The Expendables 2 screened at 800 locations, it would barely make the top 10.

            The movie studio missed the mark. Based on The Devil inside opening weekend, bad horror movies don't make too much revenue beyond the opening weekend. Bad word-of-mouth will fail this movie. There is a low Rotton Tomatoes score because the studio didn't screen The Apparition ahead of the opening weekend.

            The director/writer is a rookie. His past projects are not mainstream. He last wrote/directed a short in 2002. Poor movie marketing is also another issue. Paranormal Activity movies manage to perform well in one location. I wouldn't blame the Santa Clarita/Palmdale/Costco locations as the downfall.

            This movie director/writer thinks horror movie fans are uneducated. The movie is far from scary. It is not like The Ring. The parapsychology premise is good. However, the director/writer never delves further into parapsychology. Parapsychology deals with a number of horror sub-genres which we think are faux (i.e. paranormal, supernatural, NDE, astral projection, and etc.). Elaborating on the premise would've made The Apparition is sleeper hit.

            I was backing The Apparition until I discovered the director/writer's credentials. His filmography essentially explains the execution of The Apparition (no pun intended). Thanks.

    • https://www.facebook.com/ismal.ishak ancalime

      The Cabin in the Woods is a poor concept, well executed. Probably this one is just poor in all way. Poor Ashley Greene.

      • http://www.filmending.com Jason

        I agree with poor execution. The writer/director of The Apparition has no experience beyond his short films and unknown projects. His last project before The Apparition is from 2002. It is obvious Lincoln fails to understand execution.

        The Cabin in the Woods somehow persuaded us to watch their multiple genre movie. The two movie trailers deceive people through using movie clips out of context. In The Apparition ending, Greene's character never speaks.

        • http://www.twitter.com/GregDinskisk GregDinskisk

          Without giving away the entire idea behind The Cabin in the Woods, how would it have marketed itself in context? Also, @Ancalime I thought Cabin was a remarkably unique concept that was well executed, especially if you didn't know what to expect going in.

          • http://www.filmending.com Jason


            The Cabin in Woods probably made the best marketing campaign decision with taking the slasher and control room route without revealing the satirical premise.

            It seems you enjoyed the movie, so I'm not going to bash The Cabin in the Woods here. The film had many plot issues. The film ending was terrible. I felt bad that Sigourney Weaver had to reveal the secret.

            The Cabin in the Woods disappointed me. We gave up Friday 13th while staying in Roswell, NM to watch that movie. We were moving from the West to the East coast. We thought it would be cool to watch a good horror movie. I never thought the movie would take the satirical route. The movie is actually a horror comedy.

            The Apparition failed because the distributor decided to reduce the locations to 800 and the director/writer has no real experience running a major production.

          • http://www.twitter.com/GregDinskisk GregDinskisk


            Alright, we're all entitled to our own opinions, and thank you for being civilized about this too... I know too many people who go "DIS MOVI SUCKD BALLS" instead of actually coming up with reasons. Thanks for that!

            Good day!

  • Riley

    I was planning on catching The Apparition, but after reading a couple reviews on the movie, I’m glad I didn’t jump on the first opportunity to see it. A few of my Dish coworkers have already seen the movie and didn’t like it. I think I will add it to my Blockbuster @Home queue when it comes out to have it mailed to my house. Maybe I will catch The Possession. The movie trailer looks good enough; then again, so did the trailer for The Apparition.

  • Ed

    I honestly didn't think it was that bad..i mean it could've been much worse. Maybe i was just staring at ashley the whole movie. It's also worth mentioning, I didn't pay to see it. The last horror movie I saw that I thought was decent was Insidious. I don't expect much from any movie anymore, I think they are just about tapped out of new ideas.