Somewhere between "Paranormal Activity," "Poltergeist," and "The Entity" lays "The Apparition" a confused mess of a horror film that plays like a bunch of trailer moments strung together. The film stars Ashley Greene (the "Twilight" films) as Kelly, a veterinarian-to-be, who moves with her boyfriend Ben (Sebastian Stan) into her parent’s second home in Palmdale. It’s important to note that Kelly will repeatedly tell us how isolated they are in the desert and how there is no one around for miles, yet this piece of set-up is never used or followed through on.
Regardless, the two move in only to (pretty much immediately) discover their house is haunted. Somehow this haunting is linked to an incident two years earlier involving a group of college students who "call forth" a spirit that wreaks such havoc in their lab that one of the students goes missing... not just missing, mind you, she gets sucked into a wall. This, of course, is never explored and only mentioned later when Ben’s connection to the incident is revealed. I should also mention that these kids call forth the spirit by "concentrating" their energy for all of fifty seconds. But I guess they were wearing nameless contraptions on their head that were supposed to multiply their energetic thoughts or some such nonsense. They literally rattle off these quick explanations in almost a mumble, hoping the audience is texting during that scene and won’t notice it doesn’t make any sense.
Anyway, back to the haunting. Soon enough, more creepy things happen and Kelly is convinced they have a ghost. Ben keeps saying "No, no it’s not a ghost" even though he knows his college buddy Patrick (Tom Felton, "Draco Malfoy" in the "Harry Potter" series) sends him about fifty emails warning him that the experiment they did in college has resurfaced in a bad way. This is revealed by the emails that all have a single line in each. "I need to talk to you." "Something is wrong." "It’s like, totally bad, dude, call me." "OMG - I’m totally serious." "You have to watch this!" I mean, seriously, it’s like he was Tweeting him and only had a limited number of characters to use.
Once Kelly finds Ben’s stash of ghost hunting equipment and a video of the horrible incident with Wall Girl, she asks the movie’s most pointed question: "Did you date her?" Seriously? You just saw some girl on your boyfriend’s video get sucked into a wall and that’s what you’re worried about?
The rest of the film involves investigating and getting short bursts of exposition that attempt to explain what the entity is, what it wants, and how to stop it. The only problem is... none of it makes a bit of sense. Did they conjure it? Was it created by their minds? Is it the ghost of a man from the 70’s? Is it something darker and scarier? And how exactly do they get rid of it?
All these questions are answered (or not) in silly ways that don’t add up at all. The movie is just a bunch of moderately cool visuals that logically don’t make sense within their story and mythology. Sadder still, there’s not one scare in the movie. Not one jump. Nothing. Just some "hmmm... weird" or "cool special effect" moments that don’t mean much. When a scary ghost girl crawls out of the dryer I was like... "Why would a ghost hide in an appliance?" Not to mention it’s a direct rip-off from one of the Japanese "Grudge" films.
The script is so poorly written by director Todd Lincoln that every bit of dialogue between the young couple is earnest and absolutely unbelievable. So it’s hard to tell if Greene and Stan are just terrible actors, or simply saddled with an awful script, probably a little of both. In fact, Greene is much better at playing a frosty sparkly vampire than she is at playing a normal human being. The delivery is all stilted and riddled with forced happiness meant to illustrate just how in love this young couple is. But what about Wall Girl? Doesn’t anyone care about Wall Girl?
When the final scene takes place in a Costco, you know you’ve seen bulk entertainment concocted for the masses that has made you spend way too much money on things you don’t need. The sad part is that there is a germ of an idea in there, but whether it was the fault of Lincoln or studio intervention is unclear. What is clear is - well, there is nothing clear about this movie - so unless you feel like trying to Rubik’s Cube your way through a cliché-packed ordinary horror movie, be my guest.
Over the summer, there was an indie movie released called "The Pact" that came and went with barely a blip. It had a simply haunted house premise, but had the biggest scares I’ve seen since the original "Paranormal Activity." The film made sense, the actors were compelling, and the story was original and truly creeped me out. That movie got relegated straight to VOD, yet it scared circles around this disaster. If you want to get scared, seek that one out. If you want to ask why a ghost would tie a girl’s clothes into knots, go see "The Apparition." Just don’t expect any answers, only sweaters Kelly "totally can’t wear now!"