Breihan Dryden, A&E Writer
Most people will look at the films that I watch/review and automatically assume that I only enjoy trash cinema and exploitation horror. Well, those people are wrong. Ehh, ok, maybe they’re a little right. While, yes, I do have an undying love for those types of films, I also have a strong love and appreciation for a good period piece. Specifically, period horror. “Apostle” is a great example of period horror done right and that is something that is sorely lacking in modern cinema. Sure, you have “The VVitch” and “Bone Tomahawk”, but outside of those, period horror hasn’t had the impact on mainstream movie goers like I believe it should have had by now.
“Apostle” is written, directed, and edited by Gareth Evans. Now, if you know at least a little bit about filmmaking, this is quite the feat and by God, the man has pulled it off. Gareth knows exactly what story he wants to tell and how exactly he is going to tell it to you. Along with cinematographer Matt Flannery, he has created this wonderfully oppressive world that you, the viewer, has to sit and squirm through while things go from bad, to worse, to even worse than that. Speaking of Mr. Flannery, he has done an impeccable job capturing the world that these people inhabit. At first, I thought that the film was nicely shot, but also very flat and colorless. However, as the film progressed I realized that there was a calculated reason behind this decision and (for reasons that I won’t spoil here) color is slowly reintroduced into the world throughout the course of the film. It really is a wonderful thing once you start to notice it.
So, what’s the plot of “Apostle”? Simply put, it’s about a brother who has to go rescue his sister from a cult. Un-simply put, it’s a story about a brother who has been exiled from his family (again, for reasons that I won’t spoil) having to infiltrate this island made up of religious followers that descends into a very Lovecraftian style madness. Thomas Richardson has received a letter informing him that his missing sister has broken the rules of this religious “convent” and that he has to come pick her up and pay her dues before she can leave. Seems simple enough, right? Well, it never is in these types of films. About twenty minutes into the film, we find out that she was never apart of said “convent” and was actually kidnapped and held for ransom because she comes from a wealthy family and the cult is running low on funds. You see, they have been smuggling in goods for years alongside keeping crops and livestock. Now, the livestock aren’t producing anymore, the crops are dying, and they are becoming desperate. The reasons behind the dying crops and livestock are truly grotesque and once you start to unravel the mysteries surrounding everything, you will truly be hooked.
In the end, “Apostle” is a dark, depressing, and gruesome affair, but that’s it’s style and it sticks with it. The acting is fantastic, the atmosphere oppressive, and the look consistent. I haven’t enjoyed a film this bleak since 2010’s “Black Death” and I couldn’t be happier. If you have Netflix, give it a watch. Just don’t expect two hours of happy fun time.
“Apostle” gets 10 Golden Taylors out of 10