Review: A varied group searches for spiritual answers in documentary ‘Apparition Hill’


Despite sounding like a war movie with supernatural overtones, “Apparition Hill” is actually a compelling but unnecessarily long-winded sociological study about a group of adults recruited to watch for signs and wonders in a small village in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Since 1981, when half a dozen local children claimed to have seen a vision of the Virgin Mary on Penitentiary Mountain, millions of visitors have made the pilgrimage to Medjugorje, an occurrence first explored by filmmaker Sean Bloomfield in his 2013 documentary, “The Triumph.”

For his return trip, Bloomfield has brought along seven strangers — including an atheist, a young mother with cancer, a widowed father of nine and a drug addict — who recorded daily video diaries of their unique perspectives.


Any film that starts off quoting a song by “The Flaming Lips” is taking an admittedly unique path in its faith-based expedition, and the film makes some interesting observations about the transformative power of collective experiences.

But while the shared journey of self-realization yields its share of poignant moments — particularly those involving Holly, the spirited young wife and mother who won’t allow her terminal illness to diminish her hope for a miracle — Bloomfield and the rapturous, piano-heavy score don’t know when to bow out gracefully.

By the time he tosses in a cutesy music video of his pilgrims performing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” the trip has become decidedly less bountiful.


‘Apparition Hill’

Rating: PG-13, for some thematic content

Running time: 1 hour, 56 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino

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