By Eric Trigg
Welsh director Gareth Evans, best known for his craft with the beautifully violent Raid films shifts gears into horror and suspense for this film.
Starring Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey), Kristine Froseth, Lucy Boynton, and Michael Sheen. Apostle premiered at Fantastic Fest last month and was met with mostly positive responses.
Dan Stevens is Thomas Richardson, a former missionary who has lost his faith but returns home when his sister has been kidnapped by a cult under the leadership of Malcolm (Michael Sheen), a false prophet.
Thomas infiltrates the island of Eriksen and discovers the sick truth of the cult. For fans of the genre this period horror piece will feel like an interesting blend of 2015’s The Witch, and Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula from 1992.
Apostle does an amazing job of building tension, suspense, and raising several questions about what is occurring on the island. The First half of the film is a bit of a slow burn, but towards the middle Evans picks up the pace and delivers what his fans have come to expect from him.
Apostle delivers in its cinematography, violent action sequences, and unsettling images. Religion in horror films has been growing, and just earlier in the year Netflix’s The Ritual dealt with the same concept of devotion to a deity.
Apostle is a reminder of the length’s humans will go to when fully devoted to higher powers they can not see. By no means is this on the same level as Evans Raid films, Apostle is a gothic horror piece set in the early 1900s and it works when it wants to.
Evans has also done an amazing job of allowing several puzzle pieces to be scattered throughout the early half of the film once Thomas arrives and infiltrates the cult. Most of the film is spent with Thomas so audiences will be in the same position as he is and will know as much as he knows till concrete answers are given towards the end.
While the pace of the film picks up in the middle and intensifies till credits roll this is also where it starts to fall apart. The second half of the film answers some questions and offers loads of bloody excellence but sadly several questions remain unanswered and the story isn’t as coherent in the end when all is said and done.
Well-acted, beautifully directed, superb visual imagery, and a score that helps build the slow burn there is a lot to appreciate and enjoy during Apostle. Fans of 2015’s The Witch will enjoy this cult-based horror film about a man saving his sister from the clutches of a false prophet and his followers.
While not a complete masterpiece, this film should be watched by fans of Gareth Evans who have waited for his next feature film.
Apostle is available on Netflix now.