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The Apparition: Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Combo Pack Review

The Apparition (2012) movie poster The Apparition

Theatrical Release: August 24, 2012 / Running Time: 82 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Writer/Director: Todd Lincoln / Song: Buchholz & Shapiro - "Get Up"

Cast: Ashley Greene (Kelly), Sebastian Stan (Ben), Tom Felton (Patrick), Julianna Guill (Lydia), Luke Pasqualino (Greg), Rick Gomez (Mike), Anna Clark (Maggie), Suzanne Ford (Woman at Vet), Tim Williams (Office Executive)

Own it on Blu-ray Combo Pack or Digital Download 11.27.12

Buy The Apparition from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet • DVD + UltraViolet • Instant Video

If you're a young actor who has just been an integral part of a multi-billion dollar fantasy film franchise, what do you do next? Apparently, you make a PG-13 supernatural horror movie. That's what Daniel Radcliffe did with The Woman in Black,
whose solid box office numbers last winter suggest the possibility of a career after Harry Potter. Tom Felton, best known as the boy wizard's young adversary Draco Malfoy in all eight Harry Potter films, took the same approach, by shooting The Apparition while the long production of the two-part finale Deathly Hallows wound down. Ashley Greene, Alice Cullen from the rival Twilight Saga, joined Felton in Germany months before beginning her own back-to-back finale of Breaking Dawn movies.

These two franchise supporting players did not have as much luck as Radcliffe; The Apparition took over two years to get released and was essentially dumped by Warner Bros. Pictures in just 800 theaters with minimal promotion during the slow final weeks of August. It opened outside the Top 10 and ended up grossing under $5 million domestically, less than a third of its $17 M budget. That seemed to be all that the studio could do for this, the latest production of genre division Dark Castle Entertainment to strike out with both critics and moviegoers.

In the mysterious prologue, three college students (Luke Pasqualino, Tom Felton, and Julianna Guill) use a human icon and a variety of tools to try to channel a ghost.

Felton appears in the prologue as part of a group of college students conducting their own variation on 1973's The Charles Experiment, a kind of sιance in which professors tried to channel their recently-deceased colleague. The present-day one involves a variety of parapsychological tools and results in something spectacular that we don't clearly see.

At that point, we cut to the tale of a young couple cohabitating in a newly-developed desert community. Tech store worker Ben (Sebastian Stan, Captain America) and his aspiring vet girlfriend Kelly (Greene, whose body is shown off as much as nudity-free PG-13 allows) have just moved into a large house in a nearly vacant subdivision, which Kelly's parents have bought into.

Naturally, their home becomes the site of a number of troubling and inexplicable occurrences: locked doors blow open, mold forms in unusual places, etc. Ben and Kelly vow to amp up security with new locks and surveillance cameras, but if you know supernatural horror, you know that's not going to cut it.

The dog of the one neighbor family gets sick on the premises and soon after dies. The unsettling disturbances continue with cracked linoleum, more decay, and a closet showing evidence of unusual activity. Young hooligans are not behind this and nothing shows up on the destroyed security cameras. Ben and Kelly reason that the house is too new to be haunted. And yet, something otherworldly is to blame and it ties into that prologue and brings back Felton's character, who has been trying to get in touch with Ben, a man with some secrets.

A check of the e-mail gives Ben (Sebastian Stan) a disconcerting reminder of the secret, otherworldly trouble he's in for. A freshly-showered Kelly (Ashley Greene) finds her walk-in closet isn't exactly as she left it.

First-time feature writer/director Todd Lincoln manages to establish a gripping atmosphere derivative of other haunted house movies. The couple and their sparsely populated neighborhood are given enough definition to generate some intrigue. But as the film is supposed to be digging deeper, we discover there isn't any more to find.
Beyond the connection to the opening scene, without which this would be bizarrely incoherent, there are no layers unearthed. The oppositional force is of the vague and generic kind, with no limits to its power, method to its madness, or vulnerability to be exploited.

The poster/cover art gives away the closing shot. Its tagline "Once you believe, you die" doesn't seem to bear any specific relevance to any idea found within the plot. It's as if Lincoln wrote half a movie and then just strung together a routine final 15 minutes to give it a sense of closure and a feature runtime. The film barely provides the latter, with its end credits starting just 73½ minutes in and being dragged out for nine minutes with random, jerky power line shots.

Warner gives The Apparition a quick turnaround time, with the movie hitting stores on Tuesday in a featherweight single-disc DVD and, with a list price just $1 more, the two-disc Blu-ray + DVD combo pack reviewed here. Both editions are fitted with the studio's now-standard UltraViolet feature.

The Apparition: Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Combo Pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish, Portuguese)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; BD-only: Portuguese
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: November 27, 2012
Suggested Retail Price: $29.98
Two single-sided, single-layered discs (BD-25 & DVD-5)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase with Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($28.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Apparition receives a typical satisfactory Blu-ray presentation. The 2.40:1 transfer is dark but clean. While focus and sharpness are occasionally lacking, they are usually adequate to good. There isn't much to either appreciate or dislike about the high-contrast photography's look in high definition.

The disc's 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix is much more remarkable and commendable. The film makes inspired, distinct use of all the channels to create some effective sound design in everything from striking jump scares to subtle moments of ambient noise. The soundtrack leaves nothing to be desired. The set adds dubs in Spanish and, in a BD-exclusive, Portuguese, as well as subtitles in those two languages plus English SDH and French.

Natural brunette Tom Felton shares his thoughts in "A Cinematic Specter." From the film's set, ghost consultant Joshua P. Warren discusses "The Dark Real of the Paranormal."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Instead of things like deleted scenes and audio commentary, the Blu-ray includes four short featurettes that most prominently showcase Joshua P. Warren, an author, radio host, and paranormal investigator who served as "ghost consultant" on this production.

The most relevant inclusion, "The Apparition: A Cinematic Specter" (4:20) features some B-roll and thoughts from Tom Felton, Sebastian Stan, and Ashley Greene, while Warren talks up the film like it's something special.

"The Dark Real of the Paranormal" (5:10) has Warren talk up his life's work and how the field has advanced in recent years. Of no perceivable relevance, "Haunted Asheville" (7:36) follows Warren and local historians to places in his North Carolina hometown said to be haunted. The movie was neither shot nor set there.

Joshua Warren and the gang do some experimenting in what looks like a garage. As on the cover, poster, and in the closing shot of the film, Ashley Greene is molested by no shortage of dirty gray hands.

"The Experiment of The Apparition" (8:46) documents Warren and his equally dubious colleagues performing tests measuring brainwaves, energy, and such.

It's apparently a model for the film's prologue, though you may very well see it as quacks wasting their time and yours.

The same disc sold on its own, the DVD only includes "The Apparition: A Cinematic Specter", the shortest and most fitting of the Blu-ray's four extras.

The Blu-ray opens with a trailer for Beautiful Creatures and an UltraViolet promo. The DVD piles on more promotion, with ads for DC Comics video game Injustice: Gods Among Us, Beautiful Creatures, the digital series "H+", UltraViolet, Warner's 90th Anniversary 100 and 50 Film Collections, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Sadly, The Apparition's own trailer is missing from both discs. I wish that Warner could make trailers standard inclusions the way that some studios (especially the smaller ones) do.

Warner continues to place a distant last place among the major studios in menu creativity, simply dropping an short score excerpt over poster artwork formatted to fill 16:9 screens on both discs and, as is now the case, pouring no effort into the DVD's generic submenus (which don't even include a scene selection one).

The plainly-labeled discs claim opposite sides of an eco-friendly Blu-ray case, topped by a standard slipcover (supplying the packaging's only mentions of the included DVD and UltraViolet) and joined by a single-sided insert with UltraViolet directions and your unique redemption code.

In "The Apparition", a cracked linoleum floor is the least of concerns for young couple Kelly (Ashley Greene) and Ben (Sebastian Stan).

CLOSING THOUGHTS

For nearly an hour, The Apparition is an adequate, if unoriginal, entry to the large class of haunted house cinema. When it realizes it's got to do more than just build tension, it falls apart. That adds up to an insubstantial and underwhelming horror film probably only likely to appeal to fans of the three young lead actors and undiscerning genre enthusiasts.

Warner's Blu-ray combo pack offers fine picture, terrific sound, standard versatility, and a small collection of largely irrelevant bonus features. No one could reasonably ask for much more and yet no one is likely to come back for seconds of this film, which has "bargain bin" written all over it.

Buy The Apparition from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet / DVD + UV / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Ashley Greene: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse | Sebastian Stan: Captain America: The First Avenger • Black Swan
Tom Felton: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 • Rise of the Planet of the Apes • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
2012 Horror: The Devil Inside • The Hole • The Cabin in the Woods • Red Lights • Vamps • Dark Shadows
The Ring • Orphan • Paranormal Activity 2 • Paranormal Activity 3 • Insidious • Poltergeist • Fright Night (2011) • Case 39

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Reviewed November 24, 2012.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2012 Warner Bros. Pictures, Dark Castle Entertainment, Studio Babelsberg, and Warner Home Video.
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