APOLLO 18 (Rated PG-13 for scary moments, some profanity): Here's the official announcement from the film makers: "Officially, Apollo 17, launched December 17th, 1972, was the last manned mission to the moon. But a year later, in December of 1973, two American astronauts were sent on a secret mission to the moon funded by the US Department of Defense. What you are about to see is the actual footage which the astronauts captured on that mission. While NASA denies its authenticity, others say it's the real reason we've never gone back to the moon."
Since no preview screenings were permitted, one was expected to accept the official pronouncement as true. And true it appears to be during the first half of the film when "found footage" of the trip to the moon, the landing, and the initial excitement of exploring occur. The realistic look & feel are very good, right down to the deliberate pacing & downright boring minor details of what such a trip should look & sound like. One accepts them the way one accepts observing any recording of what might be an exceptional experience.
We find that our guys are on the moon to set up a spy system (this as the cold war with Russian was warming up) to check on Russian military activities, but also to get intelligence on what mysterious things were going on with possibly dangerous living creatures residing in the moon's craters.
Then the "horror" sets in - and like all "found footage" films beginning with "The Blair Witch Project," the surprises begin in tiny burps then escalate - first discovering that a Russian ship had preceded them and lay inert near a crater, complete with a dead cosmonaut, & then a lot of suspicious signs indicating frightening unknown living things, then facing a dastardly situation with some tiny living critters putting in their appearance. By that time we smell a mouse, suspect a trick being played on us, and so anything written into Brian Miller's & Cory Goodman's script to escalate the horror only stands out as highly improbable, even silly.
Director Trevor Cawood's attention to realistic details makes the first part of the film suspenseful & believable, as does Jose David Montero's camera work - shaky camera and all. And it's abetted by Zuisiman's eerie piano background. But once we're in onto the gimmick there's nothing that can make up for the dull, even boring, incidents that are supposed to mount to a thrilling climax. With all the phony tricks showing, it concludes its 86-minutes, not with a bang, but a whimper. (Grade: D+)