by Ian Morton
Apostle is the latest horror movie to enter the universe of Netflix originals (as everything has to have a universe now). The central plot focuses on Thomas (Dan Stevens), an ex-missionary as he tracks down his abducted sister, Jennifer. After a tip off leads him to a remote homestead off the coast of Wales, our intrepid protagonist soon finds himself lost in the eerie practices of the island people.
If this plot sounds a little familiar, then it most likely is! Blending together a cavalcade of classic 70s horror with modern supernatural thrillers, director Gareth Evans (The Raid duology) creates a world likened to genre classics, The Wicker Man and Rosemary’s Baby paired with the supernatural horror of last years, The VVitch. While this seems like a perfect combination, the result is a film that unfortunately looks the part but never really comes together.
On the positive side of things, Evans proves that he is more than capable of creating the horror setting with seemingly minimal effort. Intriguing cinematography matched with some interesting colour design are well balanced to build an appropriately creepy setting. The action set pieces – cus, why not!? – are expertly choreographed in a way that does justice to the directors signature style. Topped off with a strong performance from Stevens and the result is a film that is more than capable of looking good on any screen size.
Only once you begin scratching the surface however, does it become obvious where the issue lies – its pacing. The first half does get things off on the right foot, however the plot unfolds at a near glacial pace, making the second half feel rushed as a consequence. While it could be considered a blessing in terms of setting the scene, the reality is to the films detriment as the supposed ’big reveals’ end up either forgetting all what came before it, or belittling the foundations that make the story creepy in the first place.
With such a mixed bag, Apostle ends up being one of the more frustrating films in Netflix repertoire. With a catalogue mostly defined by disappointment, its a film that should have been more a mark of quality than another throw away exclusive. With a strong line-up of TV on the horizon, it looks like Netflix is still more about box sets than blockbusters.