If you’ve searched for www.lunartruth.com like many of us have, it is a testimony to how realistically director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego has managed to put together Apollo 18. In large part, Gallego achieves this through the home movie filming style strongly reminiscent of movies like the Blair Witch Project. The biggest challenge to our suspension of disbelief is the mere existence of a complex life form on the moon, although a devil’s advocate will point out that extremophiles do manage to exist in places above boiling point, for example, in conditions of extreme acidity or under extreme pressure such as at the bottom of ocean trenches, and they do suspect life on one of Jupiter’s moons, Europa. Regardless, Gallego makes no gaffs that yank us from our willful suspension of disbelief. We are led slowly towards the reality of the creatures in a well-paced unfolding of discovery and crisis. If you haven’t seen it yet, the setup is that NASA has sent two astronauts to the moon on a secret mission and has outfitted them with cameras that they set up around and inside their spacecraft in addition to having one with them at all times. On top of the filming, the rendering of the moonscape and other environmental features (like 1/6th the gravity) are impeccable.
The real villain of the movie, however, is the American government (and the Department of Defense) that has used these two astronauts as expendable test subjects to gather information about the deadly life form on the moon. Nixon lied plainly and directly to the entire American populace, we’re reminded, so why wouldn’t the government lie to us now? And, like the astronauts, we’re troubled by this question now more than ever with so many debacles, censorships, and conspiracies facing the western world – from a state of perpetual war and alarm to oil spills to a president that has increased military spending, reduced domestic spending and, while being commander-in-chief of multiple war theatres, wins the Nobel Peace prize. The list of absurdities is long, and Apollo 18 taps into our political disillusionment quietly, in the background, as most good dramas do while a much more tangible opponent fills the screen.
If all this needs one concrete symbol in the film, it is the uprooting and shredding of the American flag by the creatures.
On top of being culturally relevant, Apollo 18 is scary, well-acted science fiction that provides a fresh counterpoint to the big and heartless sci-fi films we so often end up enduring.
4.5 / 5