Apparition, The: Interview with Director Todd Lincoln
Written by Todd Lincoln and starring Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan, Tom Felton, Julianna Guill, and Luke Pasqualino, “The Apparition” arrives in theaters August 24, 2012.
Todd Lincoln makes his feature film directorial debut on “The Apparition,” from his screenplay. The film was produced under the Dark Castle banner by Joel Silver, Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman. The executive producers are Steve Richards, Sue Baden-Powell and Daniel Alter.
What if you move into a new house to build your new life and find out you aren’t the only beings within its walls? What if the more you believe the unbelievable, the more it becomes real…and frighteningly so? If the terror makes you flee, is there anywhere safe to hide? These are the questions at the center of writer/director Todd Lincoln’s feature film directorial debut, “The Apparition.”
A Fresh Approach to the Ghost Story
Lincoln cites various documented experiments, which piqued his interest as the genesis for the project, including one during the 1970s in which several parapsychologists created an apparition by harnessing the collective group’s mental energy. “I felt the idea that it is possible to ‘believe’ a ghost into existence would be a fresh way to tell a ghost story,” he says. “That was the seed and it continued to build and evolve from that.”
In the story Lincoln conceived, he says, “The horror is set against a backdrop of America in transition, centered around a young couple in transition. We touch on the concept of the power of belief.” Kelly (Ashley Greene) and Ben (Sebastian Stan) are besieged by a mysterious and malicious force that is “thought” to life during a college lab experiment years earlier. But the entity has never really gone away.
Lincoln says, “Ashley brought a likeable, relatable factor to Kelly that the audience could identify with and through which they could experience the supernatural events. It’s always fun to take a sweet young character like that and really put her through the ringer and completely terrorize her. And Ashley was game for anything.”
Lincoln continues, “[And] Sebastian brought something I hadn’t expected to the role—intensity, an edge, an unpredictability. He made intriguing choices. We’d walk through the sets together asking ourselves what we’d do if these events were happening to us. He’s very thorough.”
Lincoln notes, “I wanted to cast a younger, savvy guy with an edge as the scientific expert. Tom [Felton] is an interesting actor and I’m excited for people to see him in this very different role.”
Suburban Sprawl Meets Fear
As for the tone of the film, Lincoln conveys, “I didn’t want the film to live in a constant terror bubble. I wanted to capture the America of today: suburban sprawl, big box stores and new housing developments. The quiet, idyllic setting brings a reversal of the notion of ‘the old, dark house.’ This house has no history. No one died in it. No one was killed in it. There is no burial ground or cemetery anywhere close to it.”
In explaining the locations and set design, Lincoln notes, “The house is the primary location, but we go to some other interesting places in the film and open up the scope.” Several smaller sets were also built at Babelsberg, including the lab for the opening scene of the university experiment that sets the scary chain reaction in motion.
“If there is a ghost in this movie,” Lincoln says, “it’s not a ghost in the traditional sense. It’s not the ghost of anything that was ever living. This is a dark, malevolent, unknown, inhuman entity that gains its power from belief and fear. In the paranormal field, it’s the rarest and most terrifying of all: a full body apparition.”
To help bring the apparition to life, the filmmakers turned to Mike Elizalde, owner of Spectral Motion. Giving the entity its most distinct form, Elizalde’s team constructed the creature suit worn by actor Marti Martulis. Spectral Motion’s practical effects were then enhanced using computer graphics to develop metaphysical aspects for the menace, such as disturbances in the environment.
As the ante is raised, during the course of its terror the dark power remains elusive…and the mere thought of it is all the more terrifying. Lincoln offers, “It was always a question of how many times we would show the apparition and how much of it we would show. I prefer to leave more to the audience’s imagination.”
In considering his film, Lincoln observes, “Sometimes the things that are the most normal can be the most terrifying.”
Lincoln concludes, “There have been haunted house stories as long as there have been houses. In ‘The Apparition,’ why they are haunted, how they are haunted and what’s haunting them is different. We think the audience will have fun with that.”
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