Blu-ray Review The Apparition Blu-ray Review

Ken_McAlinden

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Feb 20, 2001
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Kenneth McAlinden
Capsule/Summary *½

The Apparition is a horror film that tries hard to create a spooky atmosphere but does so in service to bland underdeveloped characters, an uncompelling premise, and an unsatisfying pay-off. It is presented on Blu-ray disc with outstanding audio and video and extras centered more around a paranormal investigator who consulted on the film than the film itself.





The Apparition

Directed By: Todd Lincoln

Starring: Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan, Tom Felton, Julianna Guill, Luke Pasqualino, Rick Gomez, Anna Clark






Studio: Warner Bros.


Year: 2012


Rated: PG-13


Film Length: 82 Minutes


Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1


Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese


Release Date: November 27, 2012






The Film *½


In The Apparition, Kelly (Greene) and Ben (Stan) are a young couple house-sitting in a McMansion recently purchased by Kelly’s parents in a remotely located, sparsely populated, newly constructed subdivision. Increasingly strange and inexplicable events begin to convince Kelly that the house may be haunted by a malevolent spirit, although Ben insists that there must be a rational explanation for the strange phenomenon. When things take a turn for the life-threatening, Kelly confronts Ben who comes clean that the malevolent spirit may in fact be the result of a paranormal experiment he conducted in college which resulted in the disappearance of his previous girlfriend. Convinced that the otherworldly spirit is targeting them rather than haunting the house, Ben contacts Patrick (Felton), who led the team who conducted the ill-fated experiment. Patrick reveals that he also has been experiencing strange phenomenon and concocts a plan to return the otherworldly presence from whence it came and lock the dimensional door behind it.


The Apparition is a horror film with a vaguely defined antagonist in which very little happens to characters about whom it is difficult to care. With a couple of rare exceptions, what little does happen is not visually interesting, and the ultimate explanation is dramatically unsatisfying. If that sounds like your cup of tea, than I have never met anyone like you. The initial premise puts the lead characters in a haunted house situation, so spooky atmosphere and a vaguely defined threat are certainly on the menu of audience expectations, but the expected slow build is never paid off in any satisfactory way. There have been great films, such as Robert Wise’s “The Haunting”, that have gotten by almost exclusively on atmosphere, but never with characters this bland.


The problem is not necessarily that Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan have no on-screen chemistry, as they seem believable as a couple, it is just that their characters are woefully undeveloped prior to the time when the things that go bump in the night start bumping. The time we are supposed to be getting to know them is squandered on a protracted discussion about buying a cactus and going to Costco. When something about Ben’s past is revealed to Kelly suggesting that he may be in the running for world’s worst boyfriend, their relationship barely changes and remains as boring as ever until the film’s final reel. Poor Tom Felton has an even tougher slog as he is almost literally flown in a little more than halfway through the film to do nothing but spout pages and pages of technobabble exposition. The fact that he manages to deliver this dialog without me as a viewer wanting to reach into the screen and slap him is either a testament to his on-screen charisma or to the soporific effect of viewing such a relentlessly dull film.


Technically, the film is shot pretty well, with pristine digital cinematography, moody lighting, and an aggressive surround sound mix that you normally will not get in such low budget movies. The prologue sequence showing college students engaged in an experiment is shot on a cheap video camera, but the attempt to use this effect to create a faux documentary verisimilitude a la “The Blair Witch Project” or “Paranormal Activity” is completely undermined by the fact that it is cut faster than a Baz Luhrmann musical number with a seemingly infinite number of camera angles.


The idea of isolating the characters in an almost completely unoccupied new construction subdivision is a pretty good one, and there are a couple of character in danger sequences that show some creativity, but in the end, the film, despite a running time in the neighborhood of 75 minutes before the credits roll feels like a lot of set-up for very little pay off.

The Video ****

This 1080p AVC-encoding is letterboxed to the film’s original 2.4:1 theatrical aspect ratio. For most of the film’s running time, the image is grainless digital perfection. The notable and understandable exceptions are the scenes simulating video captured on camcorders and surveillance cameras. The limitations of digital cinematography are occasionally illustrated by contrast limitations and slight blooming, but these artifacts are very subtle.

The Audio *****

The film's sound mix is provided courtesy of a DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless encoding which conveys the aggressive theatrical mix very effectively. The mix exploits the possibilities of the 5.1 surround filed as creatively as any film I have watched in recent years inclusive of several big budget action spectacles. Alternate language Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are available in Spanish and Portuguese.

The Extras *½

When the disc is first played, the viewer is greeted with the following promos presented in AVC encoded high definition vidoe with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound:


  • Beautiful Creatures theatrical trailer (1:52)

  • Ultraviolet digital copy promo (1:20)


Proper extras consist of the following four featurettes presented in AVC encoded high definition video with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound.


The Apparition: A Cinematic Specter (4:20) is the only featurette that concerns the film itself. It includes discussions of the film and interpretations of it by Ashley Greene (“Kelly”), Sebastian Stan (“Ben”), Tom Felton (“Patrick”), and Ghost Consultant Joshua P. Warren.


The Dark Realm of the Paranormal (5:10) Is a featurette providing background on Joshua P. Warren and his investigations into the paranormal. Warren is the only on-camera interview participant.


Haunted Asheville (7:35) looks at the history of Asheville, NC and the paranormal phenomena in and around it inclusive of the haunted Reynolds Mansion and the 1900 Inn. On camera comments are provided by Asheville Historian Dan Rogers, Warren, Reynolds Mansion Owner Billy Sanders, Asheville Historian Nicole Rogers, and 1900 Inn Owner Linda Carlson.


The Experiment of the Apparition (8:46) is a featurette documenting Warren’s testing of a hypothesis based on the film's premise via an experiment in his laboratory in which electrical fields are manipulated in such a way to facilitate the summoning of a tulpa based on an experimental subject’s thoughts. On camera comments are provided by Warren, Paranormal Investigator Mobius, Night Vision Specialist Dean Worsing, Paranormal Investigator Joe Sutherts, and Experiment Subject Shelly Wright.



Ultraviolet Digital Copy The disc also comes packaged with an access code for an Ultraviolet Digital Copy of the film. This allows users with a Flixster account to access a streaming version of the film on computers and certain tablets and mobile devices. It also allows viewers with Flixster desktop software to download a copy to their computer's hard drive. Additional viewing options are available from online services such as Vudu which allow linking to Ultraviolet accounts.


SD DVD The two-disc combo pack also comes bundled with a copy of the film on SD DVD. The SD DVD presents the film in 16:9 enhanced SD video letterboxed to a 2.4:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English and Spanish and subtitles in English SDH, Spanish, and French. It includes the following promos, presented in 4:3 standard definition video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Audio, when the disc is first played:


  • Injustice: Gods Among Us video game trailer (1:53)

  • Beautiful Creatures Theatrical Trailer (16:9 enhanced - 1:52)

  • H+ digital media series trailer (2:45)

  • Ultraviolet digital copy promo (1:20)

  • Warner Brothers 90th Anniversary 100 and 50 film collections promo (2:14)

  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey theatrical trailer (2:32)


The only special feature on the SD DVD is the same The Apparition: A Cinematic Specter featurette that appears on the Blu-ray Disc.

Packaging

The Blu-ray disc and standard definition DVD are enclosed in a standard-sized Blu-ray case with spindles/hubs on the inside front and back covers. A paper inserts to the case includes redemption instructions and the code for redeeming an Ultraviolet Digital Copy of the film. The hard case is in turn enclosed in a slipcover that reproduces the same cover art with additional information promoting the SD DVD and Ultraviolet Digital Copy.
 

Michael Elliott

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 11, 2003
Messages
7,708
Location
KY
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Michael Elliott
I was unlucky enough to see this one on its brief theatrical run. Really, really horrid picture and while watching it I couldn't help but remember sitting in a theater back in the 90s and feeling the same thing. Just sitting there watching trashy, bad horror films week after week. The entire genre has certainly dried up with very few exceptions and this here is just one example of a bad 2012. The ending was certainly bad, rushed and came out of nowhere.
 

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