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Horror meets conspiracy theory

Apollo 18 depicts the 'other' moonshot that never actually happened

Just as some people regard the Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity as documentary films, there continue to be conspiracy theorists who firmly believe there was another mission after the official final Apollo 17 in 1969.

These theorists believe that there was a secret Apollo 18 mission to the Moon, the purpose of which was never revealed and of which all trace – including the three astronauts involved – has been erased.

Now, Spanish film director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego and some nifty editing asks us to believe that the film Apollo 18 is the story of that last, doomed flight, and what happened to the crew.

As with many ‘found' footage films (such as the two mentioned above), this premise depends on people accepting official denials as lies and anyone connected with defence, military, CIA, MI6 to be psychopathic concealers of horrible truths that the public needs to know.

So it is that in Apollo 18 three gullible astronauts – Ben Anderson, Nathan Walker, and John Grey (Warren Christie, Lloyd Owen, and Ryan Robbins) – agree to go to the Moon on a secret mission.

There they discover the horrible truth about the mission and learn that the aforementioned officials are about as dependable as a sackful of mad-as-hell snakes.

It would be a shame to let you into the big secret – it is a surprising one. Suffice to say that the audience is let in on the secret of what the Moon is really made of.

With the shots supposedly sourced from on-board monitors, hand-held cameras and poor quality video feeds, this is not a filmic work of art in the normal sense, but it does keep the narrative rolling along, with plenty of opportunities for quick shots of things glimpsed out of the corner of an eye.

As with all good horror movies – and the ending here was not quite as shocking as it might have been – the causes of the problem are not shown until the end, when it's far too late to do anything about it. This is why Alien (the original) and the first hour of Predator are so good.

What Lloyd Owen, last seen frolicking about in the Highlands of Scotland with Monarch of the Glen, makes of all this is not known, but he and the other two steely-eyed missile men do a good job of conveying the fear of those stuck a long way from home and where running away is not an option.

If the idea of secret missions, untold stories and brave men let down by flabby politicians appeals to you then, and, although not a classic, Apollo 18 will leave you wondering what's really out there.

Apollo 18 (15)

Running time 88 minutes

Review rating ***

N2 film reviews – supported by Newbury Vue

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