"Why are the doors open?" one asks the other later.
Furniture moves, the fridge is trashed. Something's up. As in Paranormal Activity, one of them knows what it is and might be said to be "responsible" for it.
But "we can't just abandon our house." So they don't. Besides, the "responsible" one knows that won't help.
In an alarmingly banal prologue, we see silent archival footage of a 1970s "scientific seance" in which a table levitates. We also see students later copy this "Charles Experiment" to "prove that ghosts do exist."
So the student-scientist who uttered that line, played by Tom Felton, may have the answers. Will Harry Potter's nemesis, Draco Malfoy, save the sexiest of the vampire Cullens of Twilight?
You're way ahead of me, aren't you?
Writer-director Todd Lincoln could be forgiven for borrowing from Paranormal, etc., if he had a clue about how to generate frights. He doesn't. Apparition makes us realize just how hard it is to master that combination of knowing which lens to use, when to cut, where to cast shadows, and how to stage shocks.
His actors aren't any help. Greene's performance as Kelly is seriously flat and unemotional, considering she's supposedly scared out of her wits. Lincoln helps her by writing a shower scene, followed by an Ashley-in-a nighty scene. Stan so underplays his character, Ben, that we neither share his fear nor fear for him.
The effects are as generic as the cookie-cutter mission revival house setting. The tomandandy soundtrack is a sort of cinematic spooky house music, overly insistent and incessant.
When The Apparition ends, as perfunctorily as it began, all you can do is be happy August is almost over and the horror films that studios are more satisfied with will be here by Halloween.
The Apparition * (Out of four stars)
Written and directed by Todd Lincoln. With Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan, and Tom Felton. Distributed by Warner Bros.
Running time: 1 hour, 22 mins.
Parent's guide: PG-13 (terror/frightening images
and some sensuality)
Playing at: Area theaters