There aren't too many horror films out there that have been rated PG-13. It's just something that you don't see too often and that's for good reason. The only one that I can think of from recent years is The Woman in Black and that didn't go over well. Scary movies usually contain blood, gore, nudity every now and then and other adult content that may not be suitable for children. You can't really include too much of that stuff in something that's PG-13 and that's why I was worried about the potential failure of The Apparition.
Kelly (Ashley Greene) and Ben (Sebastian Stan) are a young couple who move into a home in a neighborhood with virtually no neighbors. While barely being in the house long enough to get comfortable to their new surroundings, the couple begins to experience some odd events that lead them to believe that their home may be haunted by a ghostly apparition. No matter what they do or how hard they try, they can't seem to rid themselves of this spirit that seems to be getting stronger by the day. Out of desperation, the couple is forced to rely on Patrick (Tom Felton), a supernatural expert who may be able to save them before it's too late.
One if the first things that I take away from The Apparition is the speed in which everything is executed. This scary movie takes its own sweet time to even begin to tell its tale of horror. After I watched a good portion of it, I realized that the reason why it used such a slow build up was because there wasn't much of anything in the movie. It's light on substance and even lighter on scares. It's almost like they didn't even try to offer up anything that could frighten you. Maybe it's because it's PG-13 and director Todd Lincoln wanted to make sure that it wasn't to horrifying for youngsters to watch or maybe he just didn't know what he was doing? I can't say what the reason was specifically, but The Apparition is sorely lacking in the scares department.
Despite what you or I might want, most of the movie is actually about this young couple moving into this house and experiencing small events that might not be noticeable to the average person in most instances. The ghost, spirit, apparition or whatever it can be called, would do something here and there, but much of it is just simply moving things around. If these things happened in your house right now, most of it would probably just go right over your head and that's how these two people react for most of it.
Most of these supposed scares don't happen until after the story is explained a little bit during a PG-13 version of a shower scene featuring Ashley Greene. Speaking of Ashley Greene and PG-13, for some reason, The Apparition decided to consistently give the audience butt shots of her in her underwear. These shots make it seem like they wanted to make this as sexual as possible from her stand point and they did whatever they could within the parameters of this rating.
I don't have an issue with it, because as a heterosexual male, I can appreciate the work of art known as the female body. But it is kind of weird here, because it's obviously being restricted and it just doesn't necessarily fit seeing it from that point of view. I don't think this or anything else would have made the film better when you look at the actual content that's in The Apparition. If you had a few missing items of clothing here, some blood and a little bit of profanity, it would have changed the rating, but that's about it if this is all they had to offer from the outset. With the restrictions, we got a bad PG-13 movie and without them we would have gotten a bad R rated movie.
The point is, the story and most of the events are lacking anything decent in them and some of it is just dumb. For example, we learn that some of the guys in this movie want to prove that ghosts are real. They say this in the advertisements, but hearing them saying it in the movie makes it sound strange and it doesn't make much sense. It doesn't make sense, because they already have footage that they apparently have never shown to anyone before. What's the point of filming it if you're not going to show it anyone? There's even a guy who wants to contain a ghost. There are a host of other things that don't make any sense, but talking about them would spoil too much of the movie and I don't want to do that.
I thought that the rating of The Apparition would be the biggest obstacle that its creators faced and it might have hurt to some degree. With that being said, I can't let the director/screenwriter Lincoln off the hook with that excuse. There have been plenty of movies that have been restricted due the rating system and they still find a way to make sure a movie that they're making is smart and serves its purpose by delivering a good portion of the goods that one would expect.
There are more than a few criticisms that have to go to Lincoln, but the biggest one is for his lack of creativity when it comes to the scares that should be in here. Constantly playing the same scary music in the background won't actually fool people into thinking that they're watching something scary. For his sake, I hope he can put together something better than this. We'll have to wait and see what he does on his second feature film.
Director: Todd Lincoln
Film Length: 82 minutes
Release Date: August 24, 2012
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures