A horror movie based on actual events and set in an abandoned correctional facility? At first blush, “Apparition” (currently streaming on Amazon Prime) sounds like quintessential Halloween viewing! Sadly though, the scariest thing about the 2019 flick is actually its reviews, most of which are downright sinister! Centered around an app that serves as a digital conduit between the living and the dead which ultimately leads a group of twentysomethings to a haunted former reform school one dark night, Christy Lemire of NPR’s FilmWeek calls the movie “reprehensible and off-putting,” while UK site Love Horror deems it as “an utterly embarrassing effort” of “lazy filmmaking with dire performances, a dull storyline, poor characterization and no direction whatsoever.” The production hasn’t fared much better with viewers either, earning a paltry 40% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
One thing “Apparition” does have going for it? The looming multi-towered onetime reformatory at its center. Known as Preston Castle, the imposing four-story structure is nothing short of spectacular – not to mention spectacularly spooky!
Located about 40 miles southeast of Sacramento in Ione, a tiny Gold Country town that encompasses a scant 4.7 square miles on the western edge of Amador County, Preston Castle is easily one of the most frighteningly beautiful properties to ever be featured onscreen! Originally established as the Preston School of Industry in 1894, a 2016 Merced Sun-Star article notes the place “fits every stereotype of an eerie haunted castle like it was torn from a Bram Stoker novel.” Indeed, the colossal building, which is said to be one of the most haunted spots in California, boasts a storied history that reads like a horror movie script, has been the site of several mysterious deaths, is fabulously dilapidated and has played host to a plethora of scary film and television shoots throughout its 127-year history.