Apollo 18 is the personification of that last paragraph. As a concept, it is thoroughly intriguing to me. It asks the question, “Why haven’t we been back to the moon?” and pretty soon I found myself wondering the same thing. I’m anything but a conspiracy theorist but still, the base of the film worked for me. I also think the decision to have almost the entire film take place with only two characters was a brave choice even if it didn’t come together seamlessly. But beyond the concept, Apollo 18 falls flat on its face, a perfect illustration of what bothers me most about this genre. Director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego attempts to build suspense, even terror, throughout but he never manages to pull it off. Very little happens throughout the film’s runtime and what does happen is completely swallowed up by the boredom that the slow pace inspires. And instead of trying to do anything unique or fresh, instead Apollo 18 represents a check list of generic gags and gimmicks that plague the average found footage film.
On top of all this, Apollo 18 isn’t frightening in the least. I tire of film critics attacking suspense films and thrillers for not effectively scaring them out of their seats. But a film billed as a sci-fi horror flick needs to pack at least a bit of a punch and this film is decidedly punchless. Weak dialogue and plot holes can be overlooked (see: The Blair Witch Project) if your film is bringing legitimate scares but every time Apollo 18 tries to ramp up the scare factor, I found myself yawning and wondering how much more I had to sit through. It is lazy, half-hearted filmmaking that could have done much more with the concept it had to work with.