While the setting is absolutely unique among its peers, the films execution of found footage follows in similar footsteps. At time it comes across as wholly authentic, other times – not so much.
Still, Apollo 18 is wildly successful in drawing viewers into the tense and claustrophobic environment of the spacecraft. Outside of the craft, the expanse of space and the barren gray wasteland of the moon leave the viewer feeling queasy. The use of grainy visuals and shaky camera work effectively create an atmosphere of unease, contributing to the overall sense of dread that permeates the movie.
While the concept of an Apollo mission being thrown sideways by an unknown terror is compelling, Apollo 18 struggles to maintain its suspense and momentum. Slow pacing and questionably interesting monsters detract from the overall impact. Through the runtime, it begins feel cumbersome and long in the tooth.
Additionally, the film’s reliance on jump scares make it all too predictable. I gotI would have preferred more understanding of the threat, but it is a slippery slope. Unfortunately the lack of further plot development leaves jump scares as the only dimension to exploit.
Despite its shortcomings, Apollo 18 does manage to generate moments of tension and curiosity. The lunar setting, combined with eerie lunar landscapes and the astronauts’ increasing paranoia, establishes an eerie and unsettling backdrop for the story. The film’s attempt to weave in elements of government conspiracy and extraterrestrial presence adds an extra layer of intrigue, even though these themes are not fully explored.
Apollo 18 offers an interesting premise and a visually immersive experience through its found footage style. However, its execution falls short in terms of maintaining a consistently engaging storyline and delivering genuinely impactful scares. Bringing it to a close, it’s free on Tubi, so what exactly are you complaining about?
The Last Broadcast – Historically Significant Found Footage
The Last Broadcast is a Tubi Terror directed by Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler. Released in 1998, the movie predates the more widely recognized Blair Witch Project (1999) and holds a significant place in the evolution of the found footage genre. The film centers on a documentary crew investigating the legend of the Jersey Devil, a mythical creature said to inhabit the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.
To be totally honest, its position as a groundbreaker was totally unknown to me prior to finding it on Tubi. Due to its age and its reliance on old VHS recording equipment The Last Broadcast offers an eerie authenticity.
One of the standout features of The Last Broadcast is its use of a faux-documentary trope in the the style of public access cable TV. This cheesy backdrop give the film an unprecedented ability to blend the lines between reality and fiction. The filmmakers effectively simulate an amateur documentary aesthetic, creating an atmosphere that contributes to the sense of unease and mystery.
The slow unraveling of the mystery behind a murder slowly pulls the audience into its clutches.
The film’s low-budget production is both a strength and a limitation. The homemade quality adds to the realism of the footage but also results in occasional technical shortcomings that can momentarily disrupt immersion. The slight, but very real lapses have a tendency to pull the viewer into a state of disbelief.
The climax of the film takes a surprising and unexpected turn, challenging viewers’ perceptions and leaving room for interpretation. This twist contributes to the overall effectiveness of the movie as a psychological thriller, reminding audiences that the unknown can be more terrifying than what’s overtly shown on screen. Alternatively, the ending seems to betray it’s premise that we are watching a documentary.
The Last Broadcast is an important piece of cinematic history due to its influence on the found footage genre and its exploration of themes related to perception, and the power of media. It is all the more surprising that the film is still so obscure. Due to it low budget limitations, many of its transgressions are forgivable. For real, it has only a $900 dollar budget… It’s really freaking good.
GonJiam: Haunted Asylum – Yeah, I’m Not Going in There.
To date, Malevolent Dark has been lacking in the Korean horror department. We recently finished a review of the popular Korean zombie film Train to Busan (2016). I found that film to be intriguing enough to pique my interest in other Korean horror fare. That brings me to another highly recommended Korean film, Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum.
Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum is a Korean found-footage horror film that recycles a fairly common them. A group of Internet influencers to a bit of amateur ghost hunting and find something that they wish that they had not. In this particular case, the ghosts live in a haunted asylum (nope), and the prize is room 402; a locked room rumored to kill anyone that tries to open it (nope).
While the concept holds potential for gripping storytelling and spine-tingling scares, the bar that every found footage film must clear is psychological and emotional engagement. How does it fare?
I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but the first act is brilliant. I found the actors to feel genuine in their performances. I did wonder if my reliance on captions may have shielded me from awkward language, but overall they impressed. Furthermore, director Jung Bum-shik does some cutting edge camera work incorporating drones and action cams. J
ung Bum-shik makes solid move in describing all of the technology so that he doesn’t have to rationalize the use of cameras in the frenzy to come. The cameras are affixed to harnesses can’t turned off or removed. This way, Jung Bum-shik doesn’t have to explain why some is still looking through the eyepiece of a Sony 8mm cassette recorder while a Lovecraftian leviathan from deep-space hurls the head of the Statue of Liberty at him.
The charm begins to fall of at around the 30 minute mark.
The characters that I loved just 10 minutes ago struggle to engage my attention. With paper-thin character development and the cracks in the performances begin to show. This all leads to it being difficult to invest emotionally in their fates. As a result, when the supernatural occurrences intensify, the audience’s connection to the characters recedes to the point that it fails to evoke genuine fear or concern.
Soon that very same camera ingenuity starts to abrade the senses and the scares struggle to keep up. Half the time the audience is unable to discern what the heck everyone is screaming about in the first place. There are a couple of legitimate scares interpolated with many non-legitimate scares. Many of the scare mechanics feel borrowed from Japanese horror.
Most of these scares fail because the director neglects the crucial tension building to set the stage. Even more frustrating, the film also neglects building on any plot collateral from the first act.
The setting of an abandoned asylum is undoubtedly ripe with potential for eerie and unsettling visuals, but Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum fails to fully capitalize on this opportunity. While there are moments of visual intrigue, such as eerie hallways and dimly lit rooms, these scenes are not consistently sustained to create a pervasive atmosphere of fear.
The filmmakers could have done more to exploit the eerie ambiance of the asylum, delving into its history and exploiting the architecture to amplify the horror.
Moreover, the film struggles with its attempts at weaving a compelling narrative. The backstory of the asylum and the events that led to its haunting are underdeveloped, leaving the audience with unanswered questions and a lack of depth to the supernatural occurrences. This hampers the film’s ability to elevated the scares to a more meaningful level.
In conclusion, Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum misses the mark when it comes to delivering a truly chilling and memorable horror experience. I found myself relentlessly watching the clock in hopes that is bloated 90 minute timeline would expire. Its lack of character development, sporadic scares, and underutilized setting all contribute to a film that fails to leave a lasting impression. I think this is a Tubi Terror that might be better left in the wet decaying corners of the basement.