The Apparition Blu-ray Review
In 1973, several paranormal psychologists gathered to attempt to contact one of their departed colleagues. The efforts were dubbed “The Charles Experiment.” Decades later, a group of college students conduct a high-tech version of the experiment to prove that ghosts and other such entities exist.
Well, they’re successful and an unleashed spirit has to go somewhere. It winds up in new home of the year’s most dimwitted, unappealing couple, Kelly (Ashley Greene, better known as Edward Cullen’s sister, Alice, in the TWILIGHT franchise) and Ben (Sebastian Stan, The CW’s GOSSIP GIRL and the Mad Hatter on ABC’s ONCE UPON A TIME). Soon, the two start noticing large burn marks on their countertops and carpets. Those could all reasonably be chalked up to a contractor’s smoke break, but then their neighbor’s dog wanders over to their property and dies right on the spot, and, well, let’s just go ahead and call this whole thing supernatural.
Kelly and Ben spend a lot of time tiptoeing around their house, in the kitchen and past the living room, up the stairs and back down again. The scene has been done in just about every haunted house movie (and plenty of SCOOBY-DOO, WHERE ARE YOU! adventures). But this one has Ashley Greene in teeny undies, prompting the line, “We can’t just abandon our house—you’re not even dressed!” Afraid of potential intruders, Kelly and Ben install security cameras. That, of course, fails, and only after one of the college students (Tom Felton, Draco Malfoy in the HARRY POTTER series) admits his team’s errors do the couple realize what’s actually going on…
Ghost stories work best when they show as little as possible. Writer/director Todd Lincoln (who spent the last dozen or so years making shorts) sticks by that with his first feature, THE APPARITION. But that seems less because he has seen and studied the classics (THE HAUNTING, THE CHANGELING) and more because he saw the box office numbers of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. THE APPARITION tries to get its scares with blacked-out screens, sporadic bumps and bed sheets with a mind of its own. (Go on, evil silk, suffocate that girl!) Lincoln may have thought this all worked on the page and even while shooting, but it’s hard to imagine him and his cast attending the screening and being entirely satisfied and sure that they made a genuinely scary movie.
The movie is a failure, constructed from the worst parts of shows like GHOST HUNTERS and movies like–oh, I don’t know, is there a GRUDGE 4 out there? When it’s all over (and it doesn’t take long—Lincoln lacks the confidence to push the story past the 73-minute mark), THE APPARITION ends up showing to its own universe that “The Charles Experiment” proved the existence of paranormal beings. But the viewer won’t be any more frightened and won’t take the extra time to double-check the locks at night. That’ll take a lot more than special effects, brainless twenty-somethings and an empty Costco.
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. THE APPARITION has a fairly soft look to it, and so many of the dark scenes don’t give off any depth. The textures in skin and clothes are all fine, but the presentation could have used more detail in key moments.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1. The audio transfer is very good, as the bumps and bangs come through surround sound speakers with great effect.
THE APPARITION: A Cinematic Specter (4:20): Cast, crew and even a “ghost consultant” turn up to discuss the background and plot of the movie.
The Dark Realm of Paranormal (5:10): The consultant from the previous featurette, Joshua P. Warren, talks about the supernatural elements he’s an expert of.
Haunted Asheville (7:36): Warren returns to discuss the haunted history of Asheville, North Carolina.
The Experiment of THE APPARITION (8:46): Here, Warren attempts to recreate “The Charles Experiment.”