Apollo 18 is a 2011 American-Canadian science fiction horror film written by Brian Miller, directed by Gonzalo López-Gallego, and produced by Timur Bekmambetov and Ron Schmidt. After various release date changes, the film was released in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada on September 2, 2011; however, the release dates for other territories vary. The film is López-Gallego's first English-language movie.
The film's premise is that the cancelled Apollo 18 mission actually landed on the moon in December 1974 but never returned, and as a result the United States has never launched another expedition to the Moon. The film is shot in found-footage style, supposedly the lost footage of the Apollo 18 mission that was only recently discovered.
James A. Michener's novel Space, published in 1982, also dealt with a fictional Apollo 18 mission that ended in disaster.
In December 1974, the crew of the cancelled Apollo 18 mission is informed that it will now proceed as a top secret Department of Defense (DoD) mission disguised as a satellite launch. Commander Nathan "Nate" Walker, Lieutenant Colonel John Grey, and Captain Benjamin "Ben" Anderson are launched toward the Moon to place detectors to alert the United States of any impending ICBM attacks from the USSR.
Grey remains in orbit aboard the Freedom command module while Walker and Anderson land on the moon in the lunar module Liberty. While planting one of the detectors, the pair take moon rock samples. After returning to Liberty, the pair hear noises outside and a camera captures a small rock moving nearby. Houston claims the noises are interference from the ICBM detectors. Anderson finds a rock sample on the floor of Liberty despite having secured the samples. During further lunar exploration they discover footprints that lead them to a bloodstained, functioning Soviet LK lander, and a dead cosmonaut in a nearby crater. Walker queries Houston about the Soviet presence, but he is told only to continue with the mission.
The following day the pair find that the flag they had planted is missing. Their mission complete, the crew prepares to leave, but the launch is aborted when Liberty suffers violent shaking. An inspection reveals extensive damage to Liberty and non-human tracks that Walker cites as evidence of extraterrestrial life. Walker feels something moving inside his spacesuit and is horrified as a spider-like creature crawls across the inside of his helmet. Walker disappears from view and Anderson finds him unconscious outside of Liberty. Walker later denies the events. A wound is discovered on Walker's chest; Anderson removes a moon rock embedded within him. The pair find themselves unable to contact Houston or Grey due to increased levels of interference from an unknown source.
Anderson speculates that the true intention of the ICBM warning devices is to monitor the aliens, and that the devices are the source of the interference, only to discover something has destroyed them when they attempt to switch them off. Walker shows signs of a developing infection and he becomes increasingly paranoid. The mission cameras capture the rock samples moving around in the interior of Liberty, revealing that the aliens are camouflaged as moon rocks. Increasingly delusional, Walker attempts to destroy the cameras within Liberty, but he accidentally damages the system controls, causing Liberty to depressurize. Realizing the Soviet LK is their only source of oxygen, the pair travel towards the LK lander in their lunar rover. Walker causes the vehicle to crash as he runs away, believing he should not leave the moon because of the risk of spreading the infection to Earth.
Anderson awakens and tracks Walker to the crater where they found the cosmonaut. Walker is pulled into the crater by the creatures. Anderson gives chase, but he is confronted by the aliens, and flees to the Soviet LK. Anderson uses its radio to contact USSR Mission Control who connect him to the Department of Defence. The deputy secretary informs Anderson that they cannot allow him to return to Earth, admitting they are aware of the situation and incorrectly believe he is also infected. Anderson manages to contact Grey and they make arrangements for Anderson to return to Freedom. Anderson prepares the lander for launch, but Walker arrives, revealing he had survived the alien encounter earlier. However, he is now completely psychotic and demands to be let in. When Anderson refuses to let him in, he tries to break the lander's window with a hammer. But before Walker can enter the vehicle, he is attacked by a swarm of the creatures, which cause his head to explode, killing him.
Anderson launches, but the DoD warns Grey that Anderson is infected and orders him to abort the rescue or communication will be cut off, without which the CSM will be unable to return to Earth. The lander's engines shut off as it enters orbit, and it is in free fall. Small rocks within the craft float in the air, some of which reveal themselves to be alien creatures. Anderson is attacked and actually infected by the creatures, preventing him from controlling the vehicle. Grey tells Anderson that he is moving too fast as the LK crashes into Freedom, killing them both. The space footage ends abruptly.
The footage cuts to before the pilots' mission, showing them having a barbecue with friends and family. The "official" fate of the astronauts is given, describing them as having died in various accidents that left their bodies unrecoverable. An epilogue explains that many of the rock samples returned from the previous Apollo missions are now missing.
- Warren Christie as Lunar Module Pilot Captain Benjamin "Ben" Anderson
- Lloyd Owen as Commander Nathan "Nate" Walker
- Ryan Robbins as Command Module Pilot Lieutenant Colonel John Grey
- Andrew Airlie as CAPCOM (Thomas Young)
- Michael Kopsa as Deputy Secretary of Defense
Apollo 18 was released on September 2, 2011 in multiple countries. Originally scheduled for February 5, 2010, the film's release date was moved ten times between 2010 and 2011. (including to June 18, 2010; October 15, 2010; March 4, 2011; April 22, 2011; July 8, 2011; January 6, 2012; June 24, 2011; March 15, 2013; August 26, 2011; and September 2, 2011).
Home media Edit
The film was released December 27, 2011 on DVD, Blu-ray, and online. Special features include an audio commentary with director López-Gallego and editor Patrick Lussier, deleted and alternate scenes and endings, including footage of how the Russian cosmonaut died and the many alternate deaths of Ben Anderson.