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Review: APPARITION (2019)

Want to see if the dead have a message for you? There’s an app for that, Or at least there is in the new film Apparition from director Waymon Boone (The Devil’s In The Details). Of course, we’ve had films that dealt with machines, computer programs, and apps to communicate with spirits before. It never ends well. What makes them think this will be any different?

Preston School of Industry, also known as Preston Castle was a well-known reformatory back in the day. Which is when Apparition starts. A young boy defends his younger brother from their addict mother. She ends up dead after falling on her own knife, he ends up at Preston.

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He quickly ends up on the wrong side of Warden White (Kevin Pollak, Red State, End Of Days) and his goons Officers Hale (Jon Abrahams, Condemned, House Of Wax) and Payne (Christopher Michael Holley). Tired of the abuse he suffers at their hands, he tries to escape, only to be killed by the Warden. This is witnessed by a housekeeper Anna (Mena Suvari, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Hunt Club) who also happens to be the mother of the warden’s illegitimate child.

If you’re wondering why I went into so much depth with the backstory, it’s because it takes up the first half-hour of Apparition. It goes on so long, I was wondering if I’d ended up with a drama on the juvenile justice system rather than a horror film.

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When we do get to the present day, we meet Skyler (Annalisa Cochrane) and Derek (Matthew Barnes) who are about to get married. Derek’s younger brother Sam (Grayson Russell) turns up with an app he’s coded. One that can find connections between its users and those that have passed on. So, along with friends Taylor (Megan West) and Nate (Jason Woods), they decide to beta test it. Did I mention their fathers worked at Preston? Do I need to tell you who they are?

Their first attempt sends them to Taylor’s grandmother’s house, where she finds a necklace she lost growing up. The next attempt points them towards Preston. The restless spirits of Preston have plans for them all.

An apparition is nothing we haven’t seen before. There is lots of creeping around dark hallways full of half-seen phantoms. There’s even a child’s rocking horse that rocks by itself. Why it’s in a facility like this is beyond me, but there it is. Making two of the leads a couple who are closer to breaking up than actually going through with the ceremony could have been an interesting twist, but not much is done with it.

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What could have been interesting, but is totally ignored, is how Sam developed the app. How do you code something like that? What’s the connection to the ancient deity whose picture Sam used? There’s a creepy story about that waiting to be told. Instead, we get a warmed-over ghost story.

The same can be said of Apparition as can be said of so many of the year’s films. It’s watchable, but that’s it. What is amazing is that four writers are credited on a script that has pretty much no fresh ideas or concepts. It’s all by the numbers, Horror 101 stuff. It’s well enough done that viewers won’t turn it off, but there’s nothing new here. For all its flaws, Dreadout is a better mix of apps and apparitions.

Apparition is available to stream via Vertical Entertainment.

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