Horror movies and technology seem to go hand-in-hand; I'm guessing it's because of the close relationship the genre has with sci-fi. Over the last few decades, we've seen plenty of films that utilize technology to help push the story and assist its characters. Such is definitely the case with APPARITION - which was released in the final days of 2019: it sees its main story driven by the use of an app (appropriately named Apparition) which uses the help of the dearly departed to help show the user a message from beyond the grave. Even though the movie shares the name of the app, the app is actually not the main attraction of the film, that goes to the seriously sickening reform school Preston Castle which is based off the actual, oldest reform school based out of California. The school has a dark history that the film reveals early on, which rears its ugly head later on in the story. The movie is directed by Waymon Boone from a screenplay co-written alongside Mark S. Allen and Rob Rose, and while it may not be on the "top of 2019" lists for many, it's not a bad film by any means, it's unfortunately just nothing to overhype.
It's the night before Skyler and Derrick's wedding day, and along with their friends Nate and Taylor, they test out the app designed by Derrick's brother Sam to help track down some lost loved ones. As the phone gets passed around the group and the app proves itself legitimate, the phone eventually leads the group of young adults to the Preston Castle, which has a haunting past tied to each member of the group. As they delve deeper and deeper into the hallways and rooms of the castle, the dead come alive to seek out revenge for their misery and torment, and it's up to the group to fight their way out of the castles haunted interior alive. Will they survive, or will the dark history in their blood come back to haunt them?!
The plot to APParition is enough to keep the viewer engaged (I definitely wasn't bored during the film), but for any horror-lover who has seen enough movies like this, it's a pretty predictable storyline that - while entertaining - doesn't really stand out from any of the other ghost movies to come out in the last decade. Same goes for the acting: while I had no issues with the cast, the acting felt a bit cheesy and weak, but I feel like that was maybe because of what they were saying, some of the lines felt pretty lame. However, the location and the scenes that show the dark history of the reform school are pretty wicked. For one, Preston Castle looks absolutely stunning, the property looks absolutely daunting. But the early-on scenes that show how the young boys were treated at the reform school can get dreadfully unsettling, and make for a great way to really set an emotional tone for the property. While that tone lightens up as the story is brought to the modern day, the scenes that play out back at the castle still carry that dark tone - the crew did an excellent job at portraying that.
The haunts and jumpscares in the movie aren't bad; while they are not anything that will make you physically jump, you'll probably get a good "oh, damn" moment at least once during your watch of "APParition." But that will essentially be your big payoff with the film; like I said, it's a pretty predictable horror that doesn't do anything we haven't seen before, really. Honestly though, for people like my mother who never watches films like these, she'd probably get a good kick out of the movie and love it. I guess it really depends on how much exposure you get to films of this type and how many times you've seen this type of story play out. If you've got nothing else on your queue this weekend, it's probably worth a few bucks for the rental. I dropped $6.99 to rent this off Amazon, and I wouldn't recommend paying that for a "meh" hour and twenty minutes, but if you can rent it for two or three bucks, I'd say go for it. Just don't expect to be rushing to the app store to download the "APParition" app anytime soon.