Easily my favorite movie of Fantastic Fest so far, Apostle is the type of movie that will stay with you hours after watching it. Gareth Evans wrote and directed this disturbing tale of Thomas (Dan Stevens) who infiltrates a religious cult on a remote island in order to rescue his kidnapped sister. Any further descent into the plot would ruin surprises that were a joy to discover during the movie. Evans’ ability to depict brutality and rage is second to none. What’s that? You haven’t seen The Raid or its sequel? Go watch those then come back to this review.
Ok, now that you see the talent that Evans has, imagine all the skills used to stage fight scenes but transfer them to fear, uncertainty, torture, violence, and supernatural terror. That’s where Apostle sails above the rest. The tone throughout had me on the edge of my seat and some of the scenes were so uncomfortable. It helps that Evans has Dan Stevens as his lead. There are very few actors who convey so much with their eyes. Stevens is an incredible physical actor and since his character is a man of few words in this film, having someone with his power to emote guide us through this insanity was fantastic. From the first confused glimpse of him to the absolute horrors of the finale, Stevens is at the top of his game.
Also putting in some brilliant work is Michael Sheen who plays the cult leader. Rarely do you get to see Michael Sheen in a role like this and to see he went all in would be an understatement. The real surprise to me was the performance of Mark Jones who played Quinn one of the leaders of the cult. He is a force in this film and far scarier than some of the things in the dark. Quinn is the driving force behind the two most intense sequences and it blew me away how drawn to his performance I was.
The movie isn’t perfect. It is probably 15 minutes too long and there are two subplots that could be cut or conclude faster. However, these are just minor quibbles when you reflect on the movie in its entirety. I’m very excited for Netflix if this is the kind of quality they want their original films to be. I hope the trend continues and they invest in filmmakers like Evans.
Apostle is on Netflix in October and I hope everyone takes the time to check it out.