There are two reasons to be excited about The Apparition, the horror movie that comes out tomorrow: 1) Tom Felton playing a paranormal investigator type. 2) It's got a college science experiment gone wrong, that unleashes some horrible supernatural presence that grows stronger the more people believe in it. If you love Draco Malfoy and experiments gone wrong, then that's plenty of reason to run to the multiplex.
So how did Tom Felton go from Hogwarts' most hated to a Winchester Brothers-style investigator? We talked to director Todd Lincoln, who told us:
[Felton] came in and auditioned and nailed this role, and was just very effortless... and sounded very much like a paranormal expert. I loaded him up with a bunch of research, and certain films and references. And we brought on a paranormal investigator, an expert, to be a consultant for me and for Tom Felton. Because he's the expert in the film, in this field. And yes, he got really into it — super method — and got deep into this stuff, and scared the hell out of himself.
The whole business about the college kids raising a supernatural presence in a lab experiment is influenced by films like Poltergeist, The Strangers and Flatliners, Lincoln tells us. "It's a new way into a horror film or ghost film, in which this team of parapsychology students are setting out to create a ghost, or create this full-body apparition, and they end up getting something, and then we see how it affects this young couple" (Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan). He says this was inspired by reading about the real-life Philip Experiment from the 1970s, when Canadian scientists tried to create a ghost.
With the horrible presence that these researchers summon up, "the more you believe in it, the more you fear it, the more power that a paranormal presence or a full-body apparition can get" — until it finally takes physical form. "It's the same as that feeling you get, say, walking down a dark hallway in your house, or down some stairs. You get the feeling that something maybe is starting to walk behind you and you need to start walking a little bit faster, or start running. So it's like, the more you think about it, the scarier things get, and the more power it gives this apparition."
We ask if anybody ever says, "I reject your reality and subsitute my own," to the apparition. To which Lincoln replies, "They don't say those exact words, but yes — they take some of that line of thinking," of not trying not to think about the apparition. But even just trying not to think about the presence still leads to thinking about it, in the end.
And Lincoln absolutely promises that his film steers clear of all the cliches that are afflicting horror movies right now, with the "rusty, scratchy" sounds and images. He hopes the film does things in a more sophisticated way, using "smart sound design," and "what you don't see" is as important as what you do see. But in the end, it does turn into a "fun ride," Lincoln promises.
And Lincoln hopes his film shows what America is like to day, with the big box stores and suburban sprawl.
Note: We spoke to Todd Lincoln at the Entertainment Weekly party at San Diego Comic Con.