The Apparition presents a unique take on the haunted house realm of the horror genre. It asks the question: What if the house is not haunted, but the people inhabiting it are?
The film begins with a flashback to an eerie 1970s experiment where paranormal researchers are trying to summon a spirit that exists solely in their mind. This individual has never lived, yet they have created a life history and a sketch of this person. The effort terrifyingly works and then the team goes their separate ways. We then learn that many have died under suspicious circumstances and several have even committed suicide.
Flash forward to the present and a group of college kids led by Tom Felton and Sebastian Stan are trying to replicate the experiment and they do so with horrifying results. The film then jumps ahead another several years as Stan moves into a foreclosure-ridden neighborhood with his girlfriend (played by Breaking Dawn's Ashley Greene).
Their first night in their new home has a bit of a spook -- the doors throughout the house are mysteriously all open as they awake. That, of course, is just the beginning. Many of the usual haunted house scare tactics ensue including furniture moving, bangs and bumps in the night, but nothing too frightening that it drives our couple away.
Greene’s Kelly and Stan’s Ben are becoming seriously unnerved at whatever is going on in their house over time. They inquire whether the same thing is happening to their neighborhood’s only other resident. It seems they are alone in this horror and the couple is baffled to explain it.
Yet, Ben has an inkling he knows what this is and why it has reared its head. The presence that is taking over their lives is most likely a residual effect of the apparition created by his college experiment.
As can easily be seen in The Apparition trailer, the film certainly has all the makings of a wildly original horror flick. But, it does not quite deliver due to plot holes and special effects that had several in our screening laughing out loud instead of gasping in fear. Also, it is frustrating to see how the conflict between our main characters arises out of lack of communication that seems better suited for a romantic comedy than a horror-thriller.
Stan and Felton give great performances, with the latter further proving he is much more than Harry Potter’s foil. Greene, on the other hand, has great screen presence, but only elicits a one-note performance where a much deeper arc is needed to effectively transfer the horror shown on screen into the audience’s emotional consciousness.
Despite the film’s faults, filmmaker Todd Lincoln has to be given some credit for giving horror fans something new to chew on at the Cineplex. Usually when characters are confronted with a haunted house scenario in a film, the horror is relieved when they leave the home. Not so here as it is clear that the people are the ones haunted and no matter where they go, terror follows. It is a unique concept, wrapped in a movie that does not quite hit the mark.