Apparently, when we were told that the 1974 Apollo 18 mission to the moon was cancelled, we were lied to. This film purports that the mission went ahead, but what happened on that mission was so shocking that all future US missions to the moon were cancelled and all evidence of this mission was said to be destroyed. This film was apparently edited down from over 100 hours of footage to reveal the truth of what happened on that unfortunate mission.
Directed by Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego (who mostly has a TV and shorts background) and written by Brian Miller (his first feature-length film credit), this 2011 indie horror pic proves that not all mockumentary or ‘found footage’ films benefit from such an approach. Especially when the filmmakers aren’t smart enough to make it convincing throughout the entire length. When will these filmmakers learn that it’s all well and good to try and make something seem like a documentary, but adding end credits kinda spoils the illusion? I mean, I know the cast and crew need to be credited and all, but that’s the price you pay, and a documentary should not have a credited writer or production designer. Hmmm, wait a minute, maybe the moon landing really was staged...At any rate, it always bugs me when films attempting the illusion of reality mess up on the most basic and obvious things, and this film is full of such mistakes that kept me from being engaged from start to finish. It’s pretty lousy.
For instance, the footage from inside the space shuttle is made to look like it was shot in the 70s on 70s-era cameras. It looks like a fake home movie, ala “The Wonder Years”, only really distractingly awful. I never bought it for a second. I also vaguely recognised a couple of the actors, which is never a good thing when I’m at least attempting to get into the film’s ‘true story’ deal. Sure, I couldn’t attach names to the faces, but I still knew they were actors.
There are two even worse problems, however. Firstly, the plot comes across as too much like a 50s-era space monster flick or something like “Alien”. It’s one of those ‘abandoned spaceships’ films where a space crew investigate, unaware that something sinister awaits them. Why choose the most arcane sci-fi/horror plot for a film you’re attempting to pass as reality? Secondly, it’s skull-crushingly boring from start to finish. So boring and dreary is space travel made to be, that if you showed this film to kids, no one would want to grow up to be an astronaut anymore! I understand that it would be inauthentic to suggest space travel is full of danger and adventure, but there’s so little happening in this film that there ends up being no tension and ultimately no audience engagement. Who were these characters and why should I have given a crap about them? There’s no attempt at character development whatsoever.
I bet the trailer for this is fantastic, but at feature length it’s awful. The only good thing I can say is that at least for once we don’t get shaky-cam. See, it can be done, and presumably this was a seriously low-budget too. Shame everything else stinks here, though, no matter the budget. The finale is better than the rest, but then the end credits come along and ruin everything.
Maybe NASA buffs will get something out of this, but I found it artificial and boring as hell. It was a good idea in theory, but torture to sit through.