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The Apparition Synopsis
Plagued by frightening occurrences in their home, Kelly (Ashley Greene) and Ben (Sebastian Stan) learn that a university's parapsychology experiment produced an entity that is now haunting them. The malevolent spirit feeds on fear and torments the couple no matter where they run. Desperate, Kelly and Ben turn to a paranormal researcher (Tom Felton), but even with his aid, it may already be too late to save themselves from the terrifying presence.
"The Apparition" contains less story than a Twilight film. In fact, the trailer on the Blu-ray for "The Apparition" is actually more of a movie than "The Apparition." A wildly incoherent effort that spends most of its running time avoiding its own plot, "The Apparition" is one of those major studio releases that is so stunningly inept, it's a wonder it received a theatrical release. However, maybe the brief stay in multiplexes was a positive thing, allowing those with heavenly B-movie patience to sit down and decode the bungled filmmaking.
At some point in the 1970s, a group of paranormal researchers decided to conjure the spirit of a lost colleague by concentrating on his spiritual force, permitting him access to the real world. Decades later, parapsychology students Patrick (Tom Felton), Ben (Sebastian Stan), and Lydia (Julianna Guill) attempt to recreate the experiment, achieving success, but to an unknown extent. A few years after that, Ben is trying to build a life with girlfriend Kelly (Ashley Greene), creating domestic bliss in a remote housing development languishing due to poor market conditions. It's not long before the happy couple begins to discover eerie occurrences and assorted elements of rot and death in their abode, while Kelly stumbles upon Ben's secret collegiate life of spectral invitation, horrified to learn that a ghost has invaded the home with hopes to join the land of the living.
The above synopsis is more of a guess than a true summation of the plot. Truthfully, "The Apparition" has a story but feels nervous to share it with the audience, keeping the film a highlight reel of haunting's without a drop of substance. Writer/director Todd Lincoln simply doesn't have the vision required for this "Poltergeist" rip-off, stumbling through the picture in production survival mode, failing to develop anything introduced in the script beyond whispers and stares.
While a cute couple, Ben and Kelly aren't the brightest bulbs around, spying truly hideous developments around their home (a few thwacked with a Cronenbergian urge toward mysterious cavities and fleshy fungi) without much in the way of a profound reaction. Instead of panic, they poke and prod, finding much of "The Apparition" devoted to glacial acts of investigation, watching the couple slowly pore over the details of their doom. It feels like half of the feature is concentrated on concentration, though with Greene and Stan, maybe less interaction with Lincoln's absurdly dull dialogue is a good thing. It's hard to fault the actors entirely, who dutifully look at stuff, while Greene strips down to her underwear on numerous occasions to crack the whip on wandering attention spans. The actors are faced with nothingness and they project confusion convincingly. After all, it's hard to create characters when there's not really a movie to insert themselves into.
The entire paranormal study angle is rudely peeled out of the finished product, reduced to random visual effect shots and an atypically chatty performance from Felton, who's here to play Dr. Exposition, yet yammers on about nothing specific, lest the film actually acquire a point beyond empty scare sequences, a few cribbed entirely from other movies. Even the Blu-ray itself feels like as though it needs to convince you of the legitimacy of the supernatural by taking you through 4 separate special features all dealing with "real life" apparitions or the possibility of creating the film's "experiment". Either the studio asserted its control and chopped the picture up during its long road to release (spending two years on the shelf), or Lincoln is a genuinely bad director, unable to make simple scenes work and bold horror moments pounce. Dialogue is shouted, dogs are killed, thoughts are amplified, and there's this vague business in the 1970s that feels tacked onto the production. And yet "The Apparition" goes nowhere, burning through 75 minutes of screen time without a single successful scene or a clear understanding of the ghost's demands. Or maybe there's a deeper meaning and insightful spectral observance buried underneath multiple layers of dramatic constipation. It's a shame Lincoln has failed to provide a single reason to care about any of it.