As a movie, Apparition fails on many levels. One way that it passes is being free on Amazon Prime, which is how I found it. The trick with Prime, of course, is that really good movies tend to be available for a limited time, keeping you on the website. Time is money, after all. I was drawn into Apparition from the “based on real events” tagline, even though I should know better. It was a hot, sleepy weekend afternoon, and I’m not a good napper. I’m not going to worry too much about spoilers here, so if you’re into penance, you might want to wait until after you’ve seen it. Set at the real life Preston School of Industry—a boy’s correctional institution in California—the boys are tortured and sometimes murdered by the warden and guards. This is one of the few real-life parts: a housekeeper at the facility was murdered in an unsolved crime at the site.
Fast-forward two decades. The former warden (the place has been closed), is hosting the lavish rehearsal dinner for his son’s wedding. The son is unloved (his father is a sociopath, after all), and doesn’t treat his fiancée very well. Meanwhile a younger son is a nerd who’s developed an app called Apparition. Through some unexplained technological wizardry, it allows the user to connect to the dead. Another couple, son and daughter of two of the former prison guards, decide to try it and discover that it works. When the bride gives it a try it leads the five young people to the Preston School. There various ghost-hunter startles are used as the ghosts of the murdered boys take their revenge on the offspring of the warden and guards. The bride discovers her father was a “good cop” and that’s why she wasn’t killed. The younger son is actually the son of the murdered housekeeper, another of his father’s dark secrets. The parents come and get what’s due to them.
What makes this unremarkable film (and very little comment has been given on it) worth discussing here is that during the opening credits a Bible is shown open to Exodus. The verse called out is 20.5: “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” This isn’t referenced per se in the film, but the warden does suggest the school is a righteous place. That’s a fairly brief reward for watching, but I hate to waste even a lazy weekend afternoon when it’s too hot to work outdoors.