Directed by Waymon Boone and written by Boone, Mark S. Allen, Rob Rose, with a story by Howard Burd, there are a lot of little promising moments in Apparition, and the title sequence and plot really attempt to work at creating something special...
...While some of the cast meet the whit of the script, often they miss the mark in what could have been a very thought provoking and engaging film about technology and its connection to a darker world. However, the lackluster performances and odd pacing leave the viewer with a film that just never quite lives up to its potential.
Apparition tells the story of an app developed by Sam (Grayson Russel), one of the main characters that is introduced far too late in the narrative, which connects who ever plays the game "Apparition" to someone who has left the earthly plane and is connected to the player. In these moments where the script attempts to tell that story it works, however the first 30 minutes or so are relegated to a tragedy at an all-boys reformatory school in 1995, which is a catalyst for the final act, so it does at least makes sense to be included. When the film works best is when it focuses on the present time and the journey of those playing" Apparition."
For a movie that stars Mena Suvari, it would be nice if she had more than 5 minutes of screen time. She plays off wonderfully to the rest of the cast though, especially when she is paired briefly with Kevin Pollack in a great role as the warden, who gives it his all in this performance. Still, even with the veteran actors, the film fails to gain any momentum and severely under-utilizes the talent.
The rest of the cast are the children of the workers at the School, including the aforementioned Sam, who does a decent job being the outsider of the family. I particularly enjoyed a funny bit where he keeps showing up in everyone else's bedroom at the hotel they are staying at. Nate (Jason Wood) is asked to carry the weight of the film in terms of the rest of the comedy, which is too bad because the actor is relegated to moving the plot forward in a very Donald Faison ala Clueless performance. It’s a shame because there is talent being buried by weak writing. Beyond those two actors the rest of the younger cast all portray paint by numbers characters the genre has seen before.
Sadly, that is the frame of most of the story that unfolds over the short run time of Apparation. A lot of ideas in the script are wasted on a back story that fails to be engaging. One would like to see this feature dive more into the premise it promises in the opening title sequence; which is that of technology perhaps as a gateway to darker realms and perhaps a connection to myths and the occult.
The scares are just not there either. The unsettling cruelty of Kevin Pollack's Warden and his staff far outweigh the events towards the end where the supernatural scares are supposed to be. This same predictability leads to an end that is seen in way too many pieces in the genre, which is a let down when the premise of an app that connects you to the other side should lead to a more unique and fully fleshed out film.
Apparition is still worth checking out as it's nice to see Pollack in a role that makes the viewers skin crawl. This could have been a unique and compelling film if some of the ideas had just been given more time to breathe.
Apparition is now haunting VOD from Vertical Entertainment.
By Justin Drabek
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