In space, no one can hear this ridiculous conspiracy theory
“Apollo 18” proposes that in 1974, a secret manned moon mission intentionally put astronauts in harm’s way. Not only is the notion preposterous, the film opens with an equally implausible claim that this footage was pieced together from filmstock found online.
We meet three astronauts as they learn they have been selected for a moon mission. Their initial excitement is dampened, but not extinguished – by the secret nature of their mission. Their moon landing won’t be publicized because they will be placing cameras on the moon to spot any impending Soviet missile strike.
Though we suspect something is rotten about the mission from its inception, the film fails to build a sense of dread, or to find wonder in the specter of stark lunar footage. As one astronaut orbits overhead, two space-suited men trample through moon dust. In short order, they discover footprints and other evidence that someone, or something, has preceded them to this remote region of the moon. When assorted calamities befall the mission, the astronauts barely comprehend that they are under attack and that there will be no help from Houston.
Slow is the film’s byword. The story is agonizingly slow, but worse, its characters are slow on the uptake. None of this bodes well for a paranoiac conspiracy-theory flick. The plot fails to offer an explanation for NASA’s decision not to inform its spacemen of the dangers they will face, nor does it persuade us of the justification for rushing into this covert mission.
As the story progresses, we realize the extraterrestrials exist only to forward the conspiracy theory because the filmmakers put little effort into depicting them. It doesn’t matter how you slice it. As either an entertainment or a cautionary tale – Houston, we have a problem.