Directed by Gonzalo López-Gallego, Apollo 18 is a science fiction horror, documenting NASA’s final expedition to the moon. When astronauts Benjamin Anderson (Warren Christie) and Nathan Walker (Lloyd Owen) never return from their secret mission, the American media release their captured footage, revealing the truth as to why the US have never returned.
Shot in a mockumentary found-footage style set in December 1974, Anderson and Walker are introduced to the screen, where they are told that their previously cancelled Apollo 18 mission has been given the green light, and that their job is to place detectors in space to alert the US of any missile attacks from Russia.
Focused solely on three main characters; Anderson, Walker and John Grey (Ryan Robbins), who remains in orbit aboard Freedom whilst the other two land on the moon in the module Liberty, Apollo 18 is quick on the mark to roll out the suspense that costs this film’s entirety within minutes of the opening titles coming to a close.
As the story develops, and the audience come to grips with Apollo 18’s presentation, the two astronauts begin to collect rock samples, in order to complete their mission. Filming their efforts as they go along, the module’s recordings start to unveil strange happenings that at first only the audience are aware of. Strange noises at night and rocks outside moving are only the beginning of what Apollo 18 has to offer for the astronauts, leaving the pair to question the existence of extraterrestrial life.
Concentrating on modern history, and a subject the majority of civilisation are not text-book expert at, allows Gallego’s picture to use this at his advantage, portraying the reality that an incident along these lines could have happened, or could take place in today’s living society. From this moment, Apollo 18 sets itself above all other current cinema releases, with the audience’s curiosity wanting to delve further into this unknown phenomenon.
With its constant supply of tense and dark scenes; there is never a moment to relax as the unexpected begins to turn into a moment of horror the further the film delves towards the closing credits. Shot in a setting where there’s no way of escaping heightens this further, and the direct eye contact Anderson and Walker share with the audience is an aspect many other films dare to touch upon.
Featuring an unknown director, cast and crew this 2011 horror is a bar ahead of the likes of the Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. Although containing many similarities between the two, the idea to create such a film on the moon is a breath of fresh air, and touches upon a subject that receives little attention in today’s mass media. It may not be for everyone, but this could be the best horror film of the year.