A macabre and bloody film from director Gareth Evans (The Raid) thats' tone rests somewhere between Hammer horror and 'The Wicker Man' but fails to satisfy as either horror or gothic tale. Production credits are strong but the scripting is lacking in providing a proper back story or an answer as to why these 'followers' are even there on this isolated island. Performances are underwhelming save Lucy Boynton.
It's been four years since the release of "The Raid 2," which is entirely too long to go without a movie from Gareth Evans. Just as that series brought a horror film's sense of mortality to the action world, here Evans can't help but bring his action sensibility to this straight-forward update on "The Wicker Man," only in this instance the two genres prove an ill-fit. I wanted to like "Apostle" more than I did.
Maybe not the most original film out there - but this hums along in a similar atmosphere to The Wicker Man, or maybe even the long-adored play Keely and Du. Man infiltrates cult to save woman, simple as that. The performances are mostly average aside from the island leaders. What stands out is the visceral and kinetic - the violent scenes covered with a wide lens, moving wildly with the characters. Often beautiful.
Wild, gory, visceral, violent, ecologically conscious, exhilarating, hallucinatory, insane, barbaric, original, Apostle is a monster of a movie: the point of departure and arrival differ dramatically. A great cinematic experience that builds on the ongoing resurgence of the witchcraft theme, from VVitch to Hereditary. Highly recommended.
With a truly interesting set up it is a shame that this movie is so dull and lacking in urgency and suspense. The performances are pretty good save for Stevens trainwreck acting filled with maniacal stares and exaggreated mannerisms. The movie is beautifully shot and scored though. The problem lies in the script which never really gives the characters or the plot any agency and purpose. Could have been good...
As a violent, supernatural adventure, the film should attract both action and horror enthusiasts alike, yet Evans ends up slightly short of thrills and ambiguity, which are always valuable aspects of the genre.