Directed by Todd Lincoln
Just when you thought Hollywood's fascination with the supernatural and a bloated sense of dread had petered out after ransacking effective Japanese thrillers a while back with remakes like The Ring and The Grudge, now we have the death rattle in The Apparition. Stretched out even at 80 minutes, it's a flimsy exercise in how ill-defined a spooky presence can be and how little it actually needs to do while still manufacturing the appearance of suspense.
In an excessive two prologues, we learn that Ben (Sebastian Stan) and Patrick (Tom Felton) inadvertently conjured an evil spirit with their minds while conducting a science experiment. Now Ben lives with his vet-in-training wife Kelly (Ashley Greene) at their creepy new house within a very small community where their only neighbours have a dog that forebodingly "likes to roam." At first, the signs of diabolical forces are easy to overlook — a moved bureau here, a large dark mass forming on the ceiling there — but before long, it's clear they are in real danger.
At a loss about how to handle the persistent presence, they enlist the help of Patrick, the one man whose ideas have gone nothing but awry from the start. He has a very complicated but seemingly sound plan that they hope will rid of them of these forces that have entered their lives with very little explanation or motivation. To say whether Patrick is able to reverse the curse would be to spoil what little enjoyment there is to be had.
At times, the central enigma is so overly portentous that the film nearly veers into parody, however that would be bestowing too much credit. The sparse dialogue is lifeless, the characters are paper-thin and therefore there is very little investment in whether any of these bores make it out alive or not. Twilight's Greene gets an opportunity to wander the sinister house in her underwear and former Harry Potter nemesis Felton spews hollow platitudes and lots of high-tech Ghostbuster jargon.
Towards the end of the film, a small altercation erupted in the audience and the crowd — not caring that they were missing the climax — applauded a man for telling off a teenager's brazen profanity. Or perhaps it was more that we were all happy and grateful for a moment to be watching something more entertaining than The Apparition.
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