By Shane M. Dallmann
The trailer made THE APPARITION look fairly creepy, and the Dark Castle imprint secured my attendance–and that’s why I was sitting in an otherwise completely empty theatre watching a film that didn’t even crack the top ten on opening weekend. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens.
Kelly (Ashley Greene) is taking care of her mother’s investment property in a brand-new (and almost completely unoccupied) desert community in the company of her boyfriend Ben (Sebastian Stan), an unhappy tech geek.
Unbeknownst to Kelly (for the moment), Ben is unhappy because he was involved in a series of paranormal college experiments which date back to the 1970s–he and his crew were trying to summon an entity from “the other side” and the results were disastrous. Ben wasn’t around for the latest experiment, which was an attempt to “contain” the entity (you know, like in THE ENTITY). It didn’t work, and the whatsit is still stalking Ben. It sets up housekeeping in the desert abode and first manifests itself as a rampant mold infestation.
Oh, right, I said “almost” uninhabited. There’s ONE neighboring family–a single dad with a little dog (for the whatsit to kill, of course, and they take care of that about fifteen minutes into the movie) and a little girl. You’d assume that the little girl would be heavily involved in the subsequent haunting, but she merely pops up for one additional scare attempt before the neighbors are completely forgotten while the whatsit scratches up the closet and ties Kelly’s clothes into knots before getting “serious.”
We don’t go the entire PARANORMAL ACTIVITY route, but there is PLENTY of computer screen and security camera footage. There’s a crawling gray spectre (“Hey, remember how scary that was in THE RING? Bet it’s still scary now!”) and no matter what you do, once you’ve made any sort of contact with the whatsit, it’s eventually going to whisk you away (you know, like in THE GRUDGE).
Look, you don’t go to a Dark Castle film and complain about mere derivation. The company was founded on remakes, and it proved that it could hit a home run even with the well-worn “bad seed” concept (ORPHAN). And even during their very worst films (I’m thinking of RETURN TO HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL in particular), I could still muster up sufficient enthusiasm to say “Well, THAT scene was pretty good” here and there.
But first-time feature director Todd Lincoln brings no spark of originality or inspiration to this table whatsoever. This is no celebration of time-honored horror staples–it’s nothing more than a bone-weary rehash of a handful of films that made money over the past decade or so. Dark Castle and Warner Brothers should be absolutely ashamed of themselves for releasing it; and I can only guess that they were banking on the presence of Ms. Greene to bring in the TWILIGHT audience and to keep fans happy with her revealing outfits during the first half hour. Yes, she’s nice on the eyes, but how much do you expect to get from a PG-13 feature? That in itself doesn’t cut it.
By the way, the “other side” looks like an abandoned CostCo, and the creepiest part of the trailer was actually the final shot of the film. Er, I mean, SPOILER ALERT! Sorry about that.
THE ABOMINATION (which would prefer to call itself THE APPARITION) is utterly useless and worthless. Need I say more?