The Apparition writer-director Todd Lincoln was inspired to create his film on two fronts. One, he sought to redefine the horror genre by pushing the terror deep into the audience's mental space to achieve his shock and awe without the use of blood-spattering fears that usually dominate horror flicks.
Secondly, Lincoln wanted to shake up the haunted house subgenre and raise a question: What if the house is not haunted, but the people are?
Lincoln visited with Movie Fanatic for an exclusive chat and let us in on where and how the story of The Apparition was inspired. “A few years back I was on these paranormal-supernatural websites that I go to for fun -- what I do for fun at my place in Burbank,” Lincoln said and laughed.
“I came across this true story about the Phillip Experiment from the early 1970s. These paranormal researchers believed that paranormal events only happen because we believe they’ll happen.”
The group set out to test that theory by creating a fictional person named Phillip. They talked about how Phillip lived, loved and died. These folks even did a rough sketch of him.
“At first, nothing happened for weeks. A couple of months later there was a thump in the corner. More weeks would pass and the table would move a little bit. Things got more aggressive, like the table would flip on its side and move across the room. They became so terrified that they stopped and all went their separate ways.”
Upon further research, Lincoln discovered that others had tried to replicate the Phillip Experiment and he believed he might be onto something in terms of writing a script. “I thought, 'Wow this is so interesting, this experiment to create a ghost.' I hadn’t seen that before. It’s a fresh way into a horror movie or ghost movie or haunted house. With The Apparition, it’s more the idea that there is no such thing as haunted places, there’s haunted people -- especially if you’re the people doing this experiment.”
He sought to get away from the typical Gothic haunted house that sat on an ancient burial ground that wreaked havoc on the people who lived there stories. But, what if you participated in this experience that produced a full-bodied apparition and it followed you until your own demise?
“I thought it was cool to come at this type of movie from more of a sci-fi way. In some ways, there are traces of a Flatliners movie or John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness in it,” Lincoln said.
Once his plot outline was in place, he wanted to ramp up the scare factor while limiting, if not completely removing the gore. “I sought to go to some unexpected places. I wanted to touch on other aspects -- the paranormal events of outer body experiences, Doppelgangers and the residue that apparitions leave behind,” Lincoln admitted.
“What if they gain strength and take physical form? I think it’s a powerful thing, the connection between belief and fear. The more you believe and the more you fear, the more this thing gains strength. This is the rarest of things in the paranormal field that scares the hell out of the ghost investigators -- coming across a full-body apparition.”
When crafting a horror movie, Movie Fanatic wondered if the scary tent poles within the film are created because they terrify the filmmaker or are aspects created to scare the audience. “In the end it’s both. But it starts with what scares me. You draw from your own experience and fears,” Lincoln said.
The director reported that some of the scare factor is established once he actually has camera in hand and is set to film his stars, Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan and Tom Felton.
“It’s been interesting, this is my first studio feature and once you get in there and you’re seeing these scenes play out -- you’ve watched all the great horror films -- and there you are and you need to shoot some scene where there’s a dark hallway… all these ideas come through,” Lincoln said.
“As you’re executing all these camera angles and getting fancy with what you’ve thought of prior to getting on set… these things just melt away and you think, ‘What’s right for right now?’”
He wishes that The Apparition makes people think more about the world(s) around them. “I hope that people believe that there’s more going on than driving past more Taco Bells and Best Buys. It’s more interesting to believe that there’s more out there,” Lincoln said.
“The mysteries of life’s bigger questions drive people. Horror movies are also an escape of the mundane and everyday. There’s a promising hopeful aspect of it. It’s also just that classic fear of the unknown.”