“There’s a reason we’ve never gone back to the Moon.” This is how the opening line on the movie’s website, a American-Canadian SF/ horror written by Brian Miller and directed by Gonzalo López-Gallego.
I have briefly mentioned this movie when reviewing Europa Report some weeks ago. There’s more than one reason that links them, first of all the way they are filmed – in documentary style with footage of the mission itself, which the director only pretended to edit.
But apart from that and the obvious similarity of space exploration that turns in the wrong way, the two diverge quite dramatically since the onset. This one heads quickly to the direction of a long hidden and awful secret – the reality about the Apollo 18 mission, supposedly cancelled for budgetary reasons in the 70s and that had been instead carried along under the auspices of the DoD. And it shows images just retrieved in the form of classified materials in 2011 and uploaded on a website (www.lunartruth.com).
The plot follows straightforward from these premises, with what, especially at the beginning, looks an authentic mission. This good impression doesn’t last long, and, while I have appreciated the images and the concept itself, I’ve also noticed a lot of issues. The movie is plagued by some logic inconsistencies, and it pushes too much on the conspiracy theory trope for being enjoyable. I won’t go into any detail to avoid spoilers but I was disappointed by the way it ended, somehow abruptly.
On the bright side, the movie’s general atmosphere reminded me at times The Black Pits of Luna (1948), which makes sense considering that an important part of the action takes actually place in some dark craters – no matter if the content of Heinlein’s short story has nothing to do with Apollo 18. Those are, incidentally, my favourite moments. The depiction of the lunar soil is without any doubt the best feature of a movie that otherwise can’t be considered remarkable. The fact that many (weird) details are surprisingly true – like the one about the missing moon rocks mentioned at the end – isn’t enough to make Apollo 18 work, not even for true space lovers.