By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
The inimitable Hawk Ripjaw is sure that the next big genre of horror is going to be cults as antagonists, and with this year’s The Endless, Mandy, and now Apostle, it’s hard to argue.
I mean, Crazy Cage’s seal of approval ain’t enough for ya?
Apostle stars Dan Stevens as a prodigal son asked by his father to travel to a far, unspecified corner of the globe where a religious organization that has entrapped his sister in some way is located. He infiltrates the rough and tumble Michael Sheen-led cult and soon finds that horrifying things of many ilk are occurring, and any exit is likely to be a bloody one.
I think we all would have been happy seeing Gareth Evans make kick-ass Indonesian martial arts actioners in perpetuity, but Apostle sees him branch boldly and successfully into long-form horror after purportedly delivering the best segment of V.H.S. 2. Thankfully he’s brought along composers Fajar Yusekemal and Aria Prayogi and DP Matt Flannery, both of whom were key particularly to the broadened scope of The Raid 2.
Apostle features a lot of the formidable strengths of that film- beautifully lensed widescreen compositions and uncanny soundscapes that add expanse and depth. That epic staging and the solid enough all around acting make it so that the stakes and terrible consequences really hit when shit hits the fan, and wait for it… Apostle does deliver impressively gory (all practical), extremely inventive horror, with an out of nowhere mystical angle that is intriguingly based on Indonesian horror stories.
Mark Lewis Jones and, uncharacteristically, Michael Sheen deliver muscular, brutish performances, but Dan Stevens (who seems to really dig trippy roles these days) headlines and anchors our descent into the bizarre society and secrets of the island. Apostle goes some weird places, but it’s rewarding, nodding to films as diverse as Silence and the original Wicker Man. Evans and his team nail exactly the tone they were going for.
Apostle probably doesn’t need to be 129 minutes long- there’s so many concurrent plot wheels turning that unfortunately the character-work gets a bit lost in the details at times. Grounding those subplots in how much we care for the characters instead of their potential (always realized).
Apostle shows that Gareth Evans has more to offer than no holds barred Indonesian brawling, and that the skills developed there transfer anywhere.
Apostle (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every mention or demonstration of fertility
Take a Drink: whenever something hardcore gory occurs
Take a Drink: whenever Stevens gives some Grade A Crazy Eye
Take a Drink: for boats
Do a Shot: for the lobotomizer