Title; The Apparition
Director: Todd Lincoln (‘Leave Luck to Heaven’)
Starring: Ashley Greene (‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 2′), Sebastian Stan (‘Captain America: The First Avenger’) and Tom Felton (‘Harry Potter’ series, ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’)
The horror genre has been plagued with countless, and often unnecessary, remakes of and sequels to classic films that rarely improve the genre or offering viewers with new, genuine scares. The new horror thriller ‘The Apparition,’ which is now playing in theaters, attempts to not only move away from the constant stream of remakes by featuring an original story, but also capitalize on the ever-popular supernatural sub-genre. While scribe and helmer Todd Lincoln, who made his feature film directorial and writing debut with the the film, deserves credit for trying to incorporate horrifying new elements into the genre, ‘The Apparition’ unfortunately failed to live up to its true potential.
‘The Apparition’ follows a young couple, Kelly (played by Ashley Greene) and Ben (portrayed by Sebastian Stan), as frightening events start to occur in their new home. The two discover that they’re being haunted by a presence that was accidentally conjured up during a parapsychology experiment Ben took part in when he was in college. The experiment unintentionally unleashed a horrifying apparition that feeds on people’s fear and torments them no matter where they try to go.
Kelly and Ben’s last hope to stop the evil lies with Patrick (played by Tom Felton), an expert in the supernatural who also worked on the college experiment. But even with Patrick’s help, Kelly and Ben find that it may be too late to save themselves from the terrifying force that was unleashed.
Stan, who essentially carried ‘The Apparition’ with Greene, was well cast in the role of Ben, as he made daring and interesting emotional choices for the character. As Lincoln has said of the actor, he naturally brought an intensity to the role from his first audition. Stan portrayed Ben as not wanting to deal with, much less accept, the fact that he helped bring the menacing apparition into our world with his fellow experimenters.
Even when Kelly begins to suspect that their house is being haunted by a malevolent spirit, Ben is still hesitant to accept anything’s wrong in their lives. Kelly becomes determined to do whatever it takes to banish the entity from their lives forever, but Ben acts as the voice of reason. He tries to initially convince her that there’s a reasonable explanation for everything that’s going wrong. But as more unexplainable events occur, such as the neighbor’s dog becoming sick in their home, Stan subtlety infuses Ben with underlying doubt about what he and his friends truly unleashed during their experiment.
Despite Stan’s admirable performance as Ben in ‘The Apparition,’ the back-story for the film unfortunately failed to live up to its true potential. Lincoln put a tremendous amount of work into researching apparitions and ghosts before writing the script. The filmmaker read numerous articles and hired a ghost and paranormal researcher, investigator and expert, Joshua P. Warren, to work as a consultant on the film.
Despite Lincoln’s unparalleled devotion to researching the topic of ghosts, and the film not being a remake, reboot, reimagining or sequel to a popular horror series from the 1970s or ’80s, the overall script for ‘The Apparition’ unfortunately failed to create a unique story. There’s disappointingly little background information about Ben’s college experiments or explanation on why the spirit is specifically targeting Ben and Kelly. While the writer-director has said he feels it’s scarier for viewers to come to their own conclusions about what happens at the end of the darkness of a film, the story doesn’t provide audiences with enough details to truly understand the entity tormenting Kelly and Ben.
Lincoln took a huge risk in trying to connect to modern horror audiences by creating an original, unique story in his first feature film, ‘The Apparition.’ He made the right casting decisions with the main cast, particularly with Stan, as the actors truly understood the motivations that influenced their characters’ actions. While the filmmaker said it was important to him not to fully explain every detail in the story, so that the audience can form their own conclusions and scare themselves, the lack of details about Ben and Patrick’s experiment left the story feeling unfilled on some levels. More fully chronicling the reason the group performed the experiment and the full outcome of their sessions could have made the characters’ terror more relatable and would have made the story more emotionally and physically fulfilling.
Written by: Karen Benardello