Gareth Evans’s Apostle follows Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens), a brother determined to locate his sister, Jennifer (Elen Rhys), on an island of cultists and safely escort her back home.
Originally released in the U.S. on October 12, 2018, the film, which has an overall runtime of more than two hours, received mostly favorable reviews from critics and mixed reviews from general audiences.
The following review contains spoilers.
Review of Apostle
By the conclusion of my viewing experience during the beginning of the week, I was unsure of how to proceed in regard to discussing Apostle, or if I should even review it.
The film, bordering on the line of “neither good nor bad,” is successful in some areas while failing in others, and I didn’t fully understand my feelings toward it once the final scene transitioned to the end credits.
Firstly, the visual quality of Apostle is one of the elements that I would consider to be successful.
Its story is based in the early 1900s, and the details of the primary setting (the island of Erisden) and the clothing of its religious inhabitants are effective in establishing a sufficient amount of perceived authenticity.
Rather than appearing like obvious components of an artificial movie set, the environments and characters thoroughly immerse viewers in the early 20th century.
With that being said, its visuals not only work to solidify the time period but also contribute to the overall presence of the horror genre.
Although not immediate in blatant severity, the director implements multiple scenes that will leave viewers disturbed, ranging from a notably apathetic sacrifice of an animal to the ocean to the violent public murder of a community member with a horrific device.
In addition to visual contributions to the establishment of a former time period and efficient use of the horror genre, specific aspects of Apostle’s storyline work to maintain viewer engagement.
The discreet relationship between Erisden community members Jeremy (Bill Milner) and Ffion (Kristine Froseth), for example, is one of the more interesting plot points.
Despite their genuine love for each other, the couple would not be permitted to continue their relationship if they were to be discovered.
Moreover, the obscurely dark and violent nature of the cult suggests that there could be extreme repercussions for their level of prohibited intimacy.
Beyond these characters, however, are two entities — Her and The Grinder — who undoubtedly play the most intriguing roles in the plot.
As revealed later into the film, the stability of the island is directly affected by Her, a goddess who must continuously consume blood to sustain the life of nature (and the crops that supply the community with food).
She is the center of the cult’s religion and is protected by The Grinder, a hostile creature that keeps Her alive but imprisoned in the depths of the forest.
In spite of these memorable characters and related plot points, the director’s extension of scenes, many of which could be shortened and replaced with additional character and plot development, acts as a major detriment to Apostle.
Throughout much of the runtime, viewers have minimal opportunity to learn about the Erisden community, supernatural entities of the island, or even the protagonist himself.
Instead, the film remains heavily focused on each scene to a degree that may often seem unnecessary, which drastically detracts from its ability to consistently maintain the attention of viewers and expand plot points further than basic concepts that allure the audience.
That being said, reactions to the film may vary depending on audience values — specifically, whether they are more concerned with attractive cinematography or a fully realized (or perhaps better phrased as more in-depth) plot — which likely differ between critics and general viewers.
Pumpkin Rating and Conclusion
2.5 / 5 Pumpkins
Apostle presents its viewers with era- and genre- appropriate visuals and intriguing concepts, but its lack of a substantial plot creates notable divisions between audiences.
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Image Reference: Vox