Film Review: ‘Apostle’

Variety | 10/12/2018 | Peter Debruge
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After a failed first feature that practically no one saw, Welsh director Gareth Evans traveled all the way to Jakarta to jump-start his career, helming a stunning trio of whiplash-fast action movies featuring the Indonesian martial art of silat — “Merantau,” “The Raid” and “The Raid 2” — that established him as a cutting-edge choreographer of break-yo’-face beatdowns. Turns out that’s not all he can do, not by a long stretch.

Gopher-bombing whatever pigeonhole Hollywood might’ve stuck him in, Evans has found his way back to the British Isles, switching genres entirely with “Apostle,” a Gothic horror mystery that’s less like an adrenaline shot to the heart than a rusty, hand-cranked drill to the skull. Just in time for Halloween, Evans eschews his signature brand of hyper-kinetic pugilism in favor of suspenseful, long-fuse mind games, offering the growing cult of Netflix subscribers this stylishly deranged black mass, which plays like an homage to “The Wicker Man” (the 1973 original, not Nicolas Cage’s notorious 2006 “bee movie“ remake) with better costumes, creepier customs, and a lot more blood.

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In a forbidding corner of his native Wales, Evans invents the fictional isle of Erisden, a barely arable — and even less civilized — patch of far-flung turf where a false prophet named Father Malcolm (Michael Sheen, eyes blazing with lunatic fervor) has assembled a congregation of outcasts. So committed are Malcolm’s followers that they are willing to open their veins at his command, bleeding into jars in order to appease some unseen (for now) pagan goddess. Clearly, we’re dealing with some kind of cult here — but at least they believe in something, which is more than can be said of Thomas (Dan Stevens), a deeply scarred former missionary who surrendered his faith when the going...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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