Apostle is a horror movie that was written and directed by Gareth Evans. It is the next big feature film to release via Netflix instead of going to theatres. Set in 1905, Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens) travels to an isolated land to rescue his sister, Jennifer. He must infiltrate the island and a mysterious cult who worship a benevolent, bloodthirsty Goddess.
Thomas poses as a convert and arrives on the island where he encounters the leader, Malcolm Howe. He claims that the previously barren island was rendered fertile through blood sacrifice. Each member of the cult keeps a jar for regular bloodletting. Also, Thomas discovers teenagers Jeremy and Ffion are having a secretive relationship. Using this knowledge to his advantage, Thomas forces Jeremy to admit that Jennifer is being held captive. It appears Malcolm is presenting her to cult members as a captured spy. However, the truth is that she was kidnapped for ransom as the cult does not have the resources to pay for the continuous animal sacrifices needed to maintain the island’s fertility.
Malcolm suspects an infiltrator among the newcomers and questions them. His attempts to lure out the traitor fail. Thomas accesses a tunnel underneath Malcolm’s house and flees from an old woman who chases him. He escapes to a beach cave covered in markings, indicating the presence of a deity on the island. Malcolm visits a barn where an old woman or The Goddess is imprisoned in tree roots. Malcolm reprimands her for appearing to Thomas. He feeds his blood to The Goddess, which causes the vines surrounding her to bloom.
What exactly is happening on the island? Can Thomas save Jennifer and escape? Check out Apostle to find out.
Apostle is a really good period-horror film. It is really well shot and packed with memorable imagery to feast your eyes upon. If I were to describe Apostle in a single word, it would be intense. I’m starting to become a big of Dan Stevens. He really puts his all into each role and Apostle is no different. He’s really expressive, it’s very entertaining to watch him in action. Many of the more tense scenes simply involve Thomas attempting to remain undercover. These moments coupled with the fantastic musical score are great. Also, I have to mention Michael Sheen who does an impressive job of transforming himself compared to how I’m used to seeing him.
Additionally, Apostle doesn’t shy away from blood and gore. To call it gratuitous feels like a bit of an understatement. There is a torture scene involving a hand cranked drill that will make even the most desensitized horror fan wince.
The story could have been kept straightforward and I wouldn’t have complained. However, Apostle adds in certain elements that make it feel different. All too often cults are shown to be worshipping some type of false prophet or being.
Apostle stands out because the Goddess actually exists. I’ve read online that some found this film to be slow and boring. Personally, it kept me on the edge of my seat. This is impressive when you consider that it is over 2 hours long. I’ve always been interested in the subject matter. It lends itself so well to the horror genre. After all, is there really anything scarier than a murderous religious cult?
Unfortunately, there are certain aspects of the plot that you’ll just have to accept. Most of my problems with the film are with the Goddess. Apostle does explain how she is discovered but that’s about it. Where did she come from? Why does she have these abilities? How comes she help Malcolm in making the island prosper at first but then not later? Why does she show herself to Thomas and not someone else?
Also, Thomas has a backstory that feels rushed. A story arc involving his loss of faith doesn’t really go anywhere. The film should have dedicated more time making me feel emotionally invested in his relationship with his sister.
Finally, there is this strange creature that acts as a guardian of sorts for the Goddess. This thing feels like something straight out of Silent Hill, it’s cool but feels out of place and goes unexplained.
Overall, Apostle is great. In time, it has a lot of potential to become a cult classic.