In 1972, the crew of Apollo 17 made the last manned moon landing. Shortly after their return to earth, NASA cancelled the flights of Apollo 18, 19, and 20, respectively, and instead turned focus towards the creation of the space shuttle. At least, that’s what the government wants you to think. (Cue the ominous “conspiracy” music.)The found footage within Apollo 18 would have you believe that the Apollo 17 mission was just the tip of the iceberg. With John (Ryan Robbins) orbiting above the moon, Nate (Lloyd Owen) and Ben (Warren Christie) descend upon the surface for a secret mission, carrying a payload provided by the Department of Defense. Their two day mission takes a strange turn, however, when they find a Soviet landing craft and the body of a cosmonaut not far from their own landing spot. Soon weird things begin to happen and before long the two astronauts find themselves under attack from a mysterious presence that always seems to evade eyesight. When Nate is injured and begins to show signs of infection, it is left to Ben to try to get the pair back to their orbiting shuttle before it’s too late.
The found footage genre, which has become far too prominent in recent years, presents a challenge for me. As a concept, I think it’s rather intriguing. There are things that you can do with a found footage narrative that you can’t do with the standard storytelling and when done right, it can create an atmosphere that feels more realistic than it would be otherwise. I think it’s that presencethat brings me back to found footage flicks. The problem is it’s almost never done right. In the same way that 3D has been bastardized by bad filmmakers with bad films that use the technology for evil rather than good, found footage is mostly used as a crutch for lazy, uninspired storytelling. It is used, essentially, as a gimmick more often than not rather than a tool for crafting a quality film.