Whenever a studio opts not to pre-screen a film in advance of its release, that automatically sends up red flags for me about the films quality. The studio doesn't want critics to torpedo what they feel is a film that can make money in the first couple of weeks with the proper marketing.


Whenever a studio opts not to pre-screen a film even to a select public audience, this tells me that they don't want anything to prevent the film from making a buck in the first weekend; no word of mouth warnings or social network comments. That's generally done when an awful film cost a minimal amount to produce and the likelihood of it turning a profit is great in the first weekend of release. After that, it'll likely make no money at all.


In other words the classic caveat emptor: buyer beware.

There have been more than a few space horror films. Obviously the first one to come to mind is "Alien", Ridley Scott's 1979 classic that posed the eerie fact that in space, no one can hear you scream.


There have also been more than a few films based on NASA moon missions. The first that comes to mind is, of course, Ron Howard's fabulous 1994 "Apollo 13" with Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise and Bill Paxton. The other that comes to mind is the oft overlooked 1969 thriller "Marooned" with Gene Hackman, Richard Crenna, Gregory Peck and James Franciscus.


"Marooned" was very topical as it was released the same year NASA landed a man on the moon. It failed financially because it brought human fear to astronauts - something that was unheard of at that time.


Now comes Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego (who was a last minute replacement when the original director ran like hell from the project) with "Apollo 18", a film that wasn't screened for either press nor public by the Weinstein Company. RED FLAG! RED FLAG! RED FLAG!

So, I saw the midnight screening on my own and... OMG is this thing bad!


Lopez-Gallego takes the idea of the NASA moon missions, adds elements of the space/horror unknown entity, and then uses the fairly new found footage concept like "Paranormal Activity".


I'm pretty sure while the film was being pitched to investors, the above description was used. That is the only way to describe it. Oh... I left out - the crappy script part.


In a nutshell, NASA sends a couple of astronauts to the moon on a secret mission to find something. Now, at this point we don't know what it is. Unlike "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (which suddenly looks great compared to this thing), there is no plausable explanation as to why this is a secret mission.

When the astronauts deboard the LEM, they discover footprints that were not made by NASA astronauts. They then find evidence that maybe the Soviet Union actually did make it to the moon. Then the astronauts are confronted by a creature that literally conforms to the moonscape. I'll leave it at that. But I'll let out a subtle spoiler by reflecting on the old BC comic strip. Remember when the caveman would scream "Clams got legs!"


Yeah, it's that ridiculous. Nothing is believable. If it's a secret mission, why are the astronauts shocked to find something? And what about the unbelievable POV shots? Brian Miller wrote the screenplay and [no doubt] Cory Goodman (Priest) was brought in to try an fix it.


"Apollo 18" sucks. It lacks a believable narrative, it lacks structure, it lacks technical quality. I really would like my money back and so would you!   -- GEOFF BURTON