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The Apparition

The Apparition is your typical, ultimately forgettable horror film that serves up more unintentional laughs than scares. Tom Felton of the Harry Potter series appears as Patrick, a sort of paranormal-obsessed Encyclopedia Brown, whose jerry-rigged college experiment ends with one of the participants being sucked up into -- somewhere, the wall? The maw of the Apparition? Who knows. She's gone, and the apparition is on the loose.

Fast forward a few years, and Patrick's paranormal accomplice Ben (Sebastian Stan, of Captain America and Gone) is attempting to make a life for himself with his girlfriend Kelly (Ashley Greene). They've just moved into a house in a mostly empty land development in Palmdale, CA, where their only neighbors seem to be a guy and his daughter and their dog. Kelly's parents bought the house as an investment, like the Bluths from Arrested Development, minus any personality and plus a ghost.

Immediately, something otherwordly begins screwing with their absolutely normal, Costco-going, everyday lives. Things move, doors open, nasty-looking ''mold'' begins growing on things, and once Kelly discovers Ben's ghost-hunting past (and the fact that the girl who disappeared was his ex, sob!), their relationship begins unraveling as the ghost ramps up its reign of terror. This gives Patrick the chance to re-enter his friend's life so they can bust out their ghost-hunting (and ideally ghost-trapping) gear and get to work.

Sometimes, a movie gives you the feeling that something's been left on the cutting room floor. Somewhere along the line, scenes were snipped or added, toned down or ramped up, and what you're left with is a messy, confusing final product. One might be generous and think this is the case with The Apparition. Was there supposed to be more of a commentary on suburban life? If not, why does Costco keep popping up? Did someone with greater clout persuade the writer or director to inject an appearance of the ghost that's so ludicrous it made me think someone had swapped out a reel from Scary Movie? Was it supposed to be purposefully funny in places, and someone higher up demanded they tone it down?

It's not really our job as viewers to try and figure out what went wrong, only that it did go wrong. The Apparition is a DVD rental at best, unless you enjoy paying money to tell characters onscreen how dumb they are. The best thing one can say about The Apparition is at least it's not another ''found footage'' movie. That's not saying much. rated this film 2 stars.