Apostle is too good to just be on streaming. The latest release from director Gareth Evans - known mostly for the two brilliant The Raid films - Apostle follows a man’s journey to infiltrate a religious cult that has her sister captive and turns into a gloriously bloody and dark period horror.
Cults are scary, man. Whether it’s The Wicker Man or even Evans’ own previous work in V/H/S 2, cults are sinister, mysterious, and effortlessly creepy.
Good horror comes out of mystery, and Apostle delivers. It subverts a slow burn through Evans’ economic storytelling, instead giving us drip-fed intrigue that never lulls and always propels.
Apostle is fantastically cast. And if anyone can surpass the lead played by the great Dan Stevens, it’s Michael Sheen, who plays the leader of the cult that’s a glorious villain. It’s known that the best villains are the hero in their story, and this is exactly that. Sheen needs to provide for his flock, even if that means torture and sacrifice. But it’s not a sin for this community, it’s necessary for the growth of the land they live on. Which is what makes it all the more sinister.
The economics for this film illustrates how well a film can tell a story and how most films seem to fail. Exposition is never a chore here, and if we need a dialogue dump, we are transported the way the words try to, and that’s brilliant, because films are not plays. It’s the more visual medium.
A medium where Evans shines. Even though there’s not constant action through Apostle, the energy and movement of his previous movies lives in this film’s DNA. Every shot is calculated. The camera twists and turns exactly when it needs to. It chooses shots for meaning, not for cool. We are distorted and thrown into the POV of characters where it really matters. Everything informs everything in the construction of this film and that’s why it works so well.
Apostle fills you with intrigue and gives you enough movie logic for you to buy what’s happening. As it goes on, you continue to accept the paths these characters take and their motivations and the events that unfold. But then again, the film posits the question. Should you?
Should you believe?