Apollo 18


3 Stars

Using the “found” footage style of The Blair Witch Project and countless movies since, Apollo 18 sets the record straight on why NASA never returned to the moon.  The movie, while familiar, should thrill gritty sci-fi lovers and anyone prone to embracing conspiracy theories.  It certainly won’t please the critics who have (already) thrown some rather large tomatoes at its screen.  Highly classified information isn’t for everyone, it seems.

Directed by Gonzalo López-Gallego, the mock-doc happenings recount what happened to NASA’s hush-hush trip to the moon with the crew of Apollo 18.  Commander Nate Walker (Lloyd Owen) and Ben Anderson (Warren Christie), along with lunar orbiting John Gray (Ryan Robbins), are on their own.  Very few know about this return trip and fewer still at the Defense Department are responsible for bringing them back alive.  It’s 1974 and the Cold War in in full effect, mind you.  Surveillance has recorded some pretty heinous-sounding chatter and Russian cosmonaughts have gone missing.  What is up there?  Three men are about to find out.

Gritty and stylisticly presented on Super-8 stock and vintage kodachrome mixed with authentic NASA footage, Apollo 18 is not a beautiful-looking film.  Authentic is the aim of cinematographer José David Montero.  In doing so, the film capitalizes on its claustrophobic scenario.  Men trapped on the moon.  Helpless.  There simply is no place to run when in space.  The handheld happenings will appeal to a select few and most know the end before the film even begins.  That’s part of the contractual deal you enter into when you decide to see these types of films.

Horror hounds looking for gore and flesh-eating aliens will be largely disappointed.  The spidery-creature is wisely out of frame for most of the movie.  Still, the amount of subversive jabs the film gets in at America’s expense – in light of its Cold War surroundings - is pretty solid while building its momentum and that creature, when revealed, is pretty gnarly.  You just have to be patient and realize the reveal is not this film’s endgame…creating an intense atmosphere on a low-budget is.

The dialogue is sparse and pretty routine for astronauts.  While never clunky, their lines only give slight nods to the families and lives left behind.  They aren’t sentimentalists.  Remember, these fellas also aren’t the brightest in the world.  Scientists, they aren’t.  There’s no explanation for what happens – even in the end.  It’s all reaction.  Even their moonwalk explorations are done out of fear.  Apollo 18 is a slow burn.  It builds the tension with workman-like skill.  The script, written by Cory Goodman and Brian Miller, isn’t going for gothic-level dramatic depth.  Yet, the anxiety and the tension are all present and nagging questions are answered.

Something is out there and it’s their job to document it.

One thing is for damn sure, Apollo 18 is a lot better than that other sci-fi film released this summer about creatures on the moon.  That one was directed by Michael Bay. It made some money. It was in brain-numbing 3D. Oh, you already forgot about it?  I don’t blame you, however, you won’t forget about Apollo 18 so quickly. I promise you.

Uncharacteristically subversive for its genre and gloriously moody, Apollo 18 isn’t interested in its characters so much as it is in making its audience squirm with the answer to a couple of hypothetical scenarios.

Space is a creepy place indeed.


Apollo 18MPAA Rating: PG-13 some disturbing sequences, and language.
Director: Gonzalo López-Gallego
Writer: Brian Miller
Cast: Warren Christie; Lloyd Owen; Ryan Robbins;
Genre: Horror | Sci-fi | thriller
Memorable Movie Quote:
"We're go for the moon!"
There's a reason we've never gone back to the moon.
Distributor: Dimension Films
Official Site:
Release Date: September 2, 2011
Blu-ray Release Date:
December 27, 2011

Plot Synopsis: Decades-old found footage from NASA's abandoned Apollo 18 mission, where two American astronauts were sent on a secret expedition, reveals the reason the U.S. has never returned to the moon.


Apollo 18 - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Blu-ray Disc
3 Stars
4 stars
Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy

Available on Blu-ray - December 27, 2011
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
: English SDH, Spanish
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); Digital copy (as download); DVD copy
Playback: Region A

Well, it wasn’t made to look pristine, folks.  This mockumentary is full of era-like scratches and blips and period footage.  The worn look of the film is presented in 1080p and it certainly is flawless in its imperfections.  Tattered and torn, the superficial finesse added to the picture and its photography is certainly era-ready.  Much of the colors are drained to a dull gray and deep black.  What little “sunny” footage there is revels in the saturated treatment its auteurs gave it.  Colors crisp, levels consistent for the time period.  No complaints.  There is a fantastic soundtrack that gives us some classic rockabilly from Jody Reynolds and enough low bass rumbles to keep our brains in check and eyes glued to the screen.



  • Showing their love for the film and the project, Director Gonzalo López-Gallego & Editor Patrick Lussier discuss some of the authenticating process the film, its shoot, and the actual film shots used to mark the ear Apollo 18 is to float out from.  Both are dedicated to the film and celebrate its uniqueness in the horror market.

Special Features:

It might not have made the splash it could have and should have made in theatres, but – with four alternate endings and an onslaught of deleted scenes – Apollo 18 isn’t going to get another pass at BR.  This disc is loaded with a downloadable copy of the film, a DVD copy, and enough deleted scenes to make its fans happy.  The deleted scenes include the following: Recovered Footage from the Russian Cosmonaut, Fun in the Cafeteria, Glove and Dial, Christmas Lights and Praying, Number 13, Ben Sleeping, Dirty Twist, Ben and Gray Scale, Pictures of Earth, How Many Dead Russians are on the Moon? Version 1 -- In the Trench, How Many Dead Russians are on the Moon? Version 2 -- Half Buried, Rock in Spacesuit, What's Wrong With You?, Ben Says Goodbye and is Chased, The White Room -- John Grey Debriefed by D.O.D., and The John Grey Memorial.  The four alternate endings are interesting, but to go into titles and specifications would give the ending away…

  • Deleted and Alternate Scenes (21 min)
  • Four Alternate Endings (5 min)