APPARITION / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: WAYMON BOONE / SCREENPLAY: MARK S. ALLEN, ROB ROSE / STARRING: MENA SUVARI, KEVIN POLLACK, MEGAN WEST, ANNALISA COCHRANE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
In the advent of new technology, it’s almost expected for a bore of low budget horror films to be churned out to cash in on whatever tools/devices are burgeoning. Typically by turning them into weapons (or personifications) to obliterate a totter of teen stereotypes. Social media horrors like Unfriended and Friend Request, etc. have recently pathed the way for app-focused genre films like the recent Countdown, and now this latest flaccid spectre schlep: Apparition.
‘Based on actual events’, the set-up sees a half-crazed, drug-addled mother turn on her two sons before stabbing herself to death. A Se7en-style credit sequence unfurls, splicing jittery newspaper clippings and sinister images which segue into a restart at the Preston School of Industry: a real-life, supposedly haunted boys’ reformatory in Ione, California. The plot picks up with the two brothers from the intro, suggesting they were accused of killing their mother. They are then tormented further by a zealot warden, bullied, tortured, and dunked into a chemical-laden water tank to be disinfected.
A decade or two later: a grating, generic teen clique travel to the dilapidated reformatory (filmed in the actual Preston castle) after an app connecting the living with the dead tells them to do so. Once there, the friends battle a glut of ghosts in this hackneyed, bloodless and fright free fracas that sees galling characters unimaginatively culled in a glaringly obvious manner/order. The cast bob about all muddied and confused with their phones held out before them, in attempt to evade the miffed spirits before meeting not so grizzly demises.
The script unravels swiftly but clunkily; failing to develop key characters enough for viewers to care about what happens to them. Despite utilising new technology, Apparition does little to progress the horror genre. Instead resorting to textbook scare tactics which tick subgenre/marketing boxes but totally fail to terrify. Kevin Pollok pops up as the seething Warden White alongside American Pie/ Beauty’s Mena Suvari as his wife Anna, but both fail to elevate Apparition into being remotely worthwhile.