‘Apollo 18′: The Reviews Are In!

Critics say the 'found-footage' film requires a suspension of disbelief to truly work.

“Apollo 18″ is not a documentary — NASA made a point of clearing that up — but that doesn’t mean that a certain suspension of disbelief won’t make the movie a terrifying experience.

The flick is just the latest to cash in on the found-footage premise made popular in 1999′s “The Blair Witch Project,” but it is the first to bring that filmmaking style to outer space. Some critics thought the premise worked in its new location, while others felt the film lost its momentum in the second hour.

The consensus is that it either will work for you or it won’t; which way will you sway? Check out what the critics have to say and make your decision in theaters this weekend.

The Premise
“These days, none but the most naive, gullible and uninformed of moviegoers would ever fall for the déclassé claim that a horror film purporting to consist of found footage is, in fact, real. 1999′s ‘The Blair Witch Project’ was one thing, since it started the trend, but that was 12 years ago and most viewers are more savvy now to the flimsy trickster ways of overzealous studios and marketing execs. The latest entry into the genre, ‘Apollo 18,’ is clearly fictional despite claims to the contrary, but it doesn’t matter. A willing audience member’s suspension of disbelief can go a long way in creating the necessary sense of reality as long as the performances are natural and the filmmaking itself free of obvious artifice.” — Dustin Putman, DustinPutman.com

The Presentation
“It’s easy to dismiss a bad feature film as ‘something that’d play better as a short,’ but such is most certainly the case where ‘Apollo 18′ is concerned. If it clocked in at around thirty minutes, it would still have the novelty of its premise and presentation, but it’d also be wonderfully bereft of all the dead air, aimless wandering, and redundant dialogue that all but ruin a potentially fun movie. Not helping is the fact that the ‘character development’ is clumsy at best and that much of the narrative is just plain, old worthless wheel-spinning. Lifelong apologist for the oft-lamented ‘sci-fi horror’ genre I may be, but there’s virtually nothing of value to be found in ‘Apollo 18.’ I have no problem with gimmick movies, but the story and its presentation should always be more important than the gimmick itself. Or at least more interesting.” — Scott Weinberg, FearNet

The Scares
“The best horror films are movies that play on our real fears, that speak to something universally understood or shared, and that create a situation we can imagine ourselves in. The notion of being trapped on the moon could work if they really wanted to play on the notions of isolation and dependence on technology and the onset of madness in a closed space. There are definitely fears that this film could have cranked up to have an effect, but instead, there is this cheap, false tension that all comes down to cheap jumps and moon rocks with legs.” — Drew McWeeny, HitFix

The Subtext
“In fact, this is what makes ‘Apollo 18′ special; it is perhaps the first narrative film to address the popularity of 9/11 conspiracy documentaries. Though it never touches on the modern world, the ‘lunartruth.org’ title card, the large scale conspiracy elements, the closing frames of the astronauts official cause of death and the ‘edited from stolen footage’ conceit all heavily recall ‘Loose Change,’ the Abu Graib photos, Saddam’s hanging video and even at hint of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. While most viewers will never pick up on this subtext, it will play just below the consciousness of many, adding depth and a creeping sense of malaise. Even as someone who is 100% not a ‘truther’ it added an extra element that I responded to emotionally.” — Hunter Daniels, Collider

The Final Word
” ‘Apollo 18′ is innovative, intense and will make you scream like a little girl. It’s not a great film by any means but it’s all about the atmosphere and the world that is created by Director Gonzalo López-Gallego (his first major motion picture). Even though I knew going in that the film was fake, I still found myself suspending my disbelief. Hats off to the amazing film makers for making me feel like I was on the moon with these actors. I mean seriously, the film looked just like found footage from the 1970′s. The post-production on this project must have been insane, adding in all the scratch marks, etc. The tight spaces these actors had to film in were absolutely insane. What the film does really well is use a slow-build effect for the scares which became a very important factor in keeping you entertained for ninety minutes.” — Kevin McCarthy, BDKReviews

Check out everything we’ve got on “Apollo 18.”

For breaking news, celebrity columns, humor and more — updated around the clock — visit MTVMoviesBlog.com.