The Reel Review
Two years after 1972’s successful, Apollo 17 Moon mission, three astronauts embark on a secret, clandestine Department of Defense mission to deploy military technology to spy on the Soviet Union’s missile program. But shortly after their lunar landing they discover they are not alone, in this 2011 found footage sci-fi/horror.
Apollo 18’s premise at least, is a fun mashup of sci-fi conspiracy theory and found footage mystery/horror, set to the era’s Cold War space race between the United States and Soviet Union. Despite a shoestring budget, director Gonzalo López-Gallego assembles some dry but still impressive, authentic-looking visuals as the astronauts soon discover mysterious sounds and movements outside their spacecraft. Even more shocking – their discovery of a Soviet lunar module with a dead cosmonaut nearby.
Unfortunately, the film’s third act devolves into a real disappointing dud. It has the feel of a screenplay that frequently was rewritten during filming. (It actually was – the DVD features four alternate endings.) Other, very similar films like 2009’s Moon, starring Sam Rockwell, do the same story, only much better.
• In actuality, NASA renamed Apollo 18 Apollo-Soyuz, which in 1975 became the first joint American-Russian space mission, when the two capsules docked while in orbit.
• Gerry Griffin, who worked as Flight Director for every manned Apollo mission, was a technical advisor on the film.
• Just days after Apollo 18 opened in theaters, NASA announced that the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, had captured the sharpest images ever taken from space of the Apollo 12, 14 and 17 landing sites.