With the darkest of atmospheres that sheds gallons of blood, Apostle makes for one of the more original horror films of the year. Which is quite an accomplishment considering 2018 and Panos Cosmatos gave us Mandy.
Admittedly, I had been salivating for this one. And it did not disappoint. Gareth Evans is one of those filmmakers that come along every now and then that just seem to not be able to miss their target. Merantau was solid. The Raid 1 and 2 are not only great films but arguably the best of it's genre. And now, his period piece-rescue mission-horror flick scores big.
The time is 1905. Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens) crawls out of whatever rock he's been hiding under when he hears the news of his sister being abducted and held for ransom by a religious cult. With a father who's mind is long gone, Thomas must take it upon himself to rescue his sister Jennifer (Elen Rhys). Thomas must travel by boat to an island that seems to be hidden from the rest of the world (and for good reason) to find his sister.
Once on the island we meet the leader of the cult, Prophet Malcolm, played by the talented Michael Sheen. Malcolm and his war brothers - Frank (Paul Higgins) and Quinn (Mark Lewis Jones) seem to be controlling the island from within. From there Thomas begins to realize there is something more bizarre afoot than just the cult. What could possibly be more bizarre than a religious cult? Thomas will find out. In trying to find out, Thomas befriends Ffion (Kristine Froseth). Now equipped with the truths, as they see it, the two begin on their crusade; Thomas rescuing his sister and Ffion rescuing her father.
While there are many things to admire about the film: the pacing (which seems to be what bothered most critics), the cinematography, the acting, the editing...I find the set design to be amongst my favorite things about the film. The dark and somewhat trippy (and drippy) colors used to illustrate the boat dock, the cultists' living quarters, the dining commons, etc. play just as much part in creating the creepy atmosphere as the story and players do. Similar to Blade Runner 2049, I was lost within the set, lost within the environment. You know it's good when it takes 2-3 minutes to pull yourself out of "that place."
I've said all I can really say without spoiling anything. So, boot up Netflix, get to watching, and enjoy.