A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Apparition is a haunted house movie with more scary stuff like noises, lights, shadowy figures, and unseen forces attacking the characters than actual blood. The movie focuses on a boyfriend/girlfriend couple (the latter is played by Ashley Greene from the Twilight movies), and they're shown sleeping in the same bed and walking around in their underwear. The girl takes a shower, but nothing sensitive is shown. Swearing includes several uses of "s--t" and "hell" but is otherwise mild. Teen horror fanatics may be interested, despite the film's general lack of story/quality.
What's the story?
Ben (Sebastian Stan) and Kelly (Ashley Greene) have moved into a brand new residential development area in the middle of nowhere. They seem happy, but before long, spooky things start happening in their house: Doors suddenly open, mold starts growing, and a dog dies in the laundry room. What Kelly doesn't know is that, years earlier in college, Ben participated in an experiment to contact the "other world." The experiment went wrong and unexpectedly opened a door, letting in some kind of malevolent spirit. Now it's up to Ben's old friend Patrick (Tom Felton) to try to set things right again.
Is it any good?
The ads for THE APPARITION imply a lot more story than is actually here -- something about "if you believe in them, they can get you." But what actually happens in the movie seems to be left over from some kind of rigorous cutting session. It's less of an arc than a flatline. Which is too bad, because it seems like something worthwhile might have been here once, and writer/director Todd Lincoln takes great care in establishing the remote, empty living space, dotted with sinister electrical towers, as well as the box stores and strip malls where the characters shop and eat.
The movie's early, spooky stuff is very old fashioned and nicely effective, relying on suggestion, shadows, and sounds rather than overt monsters or blood. One of the scariest moments simply involves the characters waking up and realizing that the doors to the house are wide open. But as The Apparition goes on, the scares require more special effects, and they lose their punch. And the final stretch is as baffling as it is unsatisfying.
Talk to your kids about ...
Is Ben right to lie to Kelly to protect her? Is lying better or worse than trying to protect someone's feelings or safety?
What is the movie about? What lesson, if any, do the characters learn?
- In theaters: August 24, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: November 27, 2012
- Cast: Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan, Tom Felton
- Director: Todd Lincoln
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
- Run time: 82 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: terror/frightening images and some sensuality
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.