Exploiting the found footage trend (triggered by The Blair Witch Project on through the recent Paranormal Activity series) that has carved out a niche in the horror-thriller genre, Apollo 18 documents the story of a 1974 lost lunar mission. Two American astronauts (Warren Christie and Lloyd Owen) pilot a probe to the moon with a Department of Defense payload of cameras and equipment and little additional information regarding their mission, which seems strange to these men — especially since exploration of the moon has been officially cancelled — but they race off, driven by their own innate curiosity and the chance to take the once-in-a-lifetime journey.
What they discover is a world of secrets (apparently we were not the only country or species to leave our mark up there) that can never see the light of day on Earth.
These good old boys are prototypical NASA types, complete with military training and families back home, so audiences can relate to them as historic artifacts locked in a claustrophobic — yet one-step away from limitless — space, but as the situation devolves, the movie becomes a standard modern con job, short on truly sustained suspense and way too careful as it makes sure that we catch every bump and movement on cue. Also, the story drifts dangerously off course when it attempts to reach for the political/cultural angles that would break Apollo 18 out of its tiny floating space box. Grade: C-
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