|Directed by||Gareth Evans|
|Written by||Gareth Evans|
|Edited by||Gareth Evans|
Apostle is a 2018 period horror film written, directed and edited by Gareth Evans and starring Dan Stevens, Lucy Boynton, Mark Lewis Jones, Bill Milner, Kristine Froseth, Paul Higgins and Michael Sheen. It had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest in September 2018. The film began streaming on Netflix on 12 October 2018. The story follows a British man as he attempts to rescue his sister from an evil cult on a remote island. The film received generally positive reviews from critics.
In 1905, Thomas Richardson travels to a remote Welsh island to rescue his sister, Jennifer, who has been kidnapped and held for ransom by a mysterious cult. Posing as a convert, Thomas encounters the leader, Malcolm Howe, who founded the cult with two other convicts, Frank and Quinn. They claim that the barren island was rendered fertile through blood sacrifice. Thomas discovers Frank's son Jeremy and Quinn's daughter Ffion sneaking home after a tryst. He forces Jeremy to admit that Jennifer was kidnapped for ransom, as the cult does not have the resources to pay for the continuous animal sacrifices needed to maintain the island's fertility.
One of the newcomers attempts to assassinate Malcolm, but Thomas intervenes and is wounded. The same night, Malcolm parades Jennifer through the village, claiming she will be killed if her co-conspirator does not come forward. Thomas flees from an old woman who chases him, and escapes to a beach cave covered in markings, indicating the presence of a deity. Malcolm visits a barn where the old woman who is, in fact, the island's deity, is imprisoned in tree roots; he reprimands her for appearing to Thomas before feeding her his blood, causing the vegetation imprisoning her to bloom. Thomas tells Malcolm's daughter Andrea that he was a Christian missionary who was persecuted in Peking during the Boxer Rebellion for introducing Christianity to China, and lost his faith as a result. She takes him to a shack in a wheat field to hide.
Ffion reveals to Jeremy that she is pregnant and the pair decide to elope. However, Quinn murders Ffion in a forced abortion. Jeremy stabs Quinn and guards capture him. Quinn frames Jeremy for Ffion's murder and uses a "purification" ritual to murder him. Quinn calls Malcolm a false prophet and demands that he prove himself by killing Thomas. Frank, enraged by the death of his son, attacks Quinn, allowing Thomas to escape.
Frank and Thomas flee and arrive at the barn where The Goddess is being held. Frank enters, intent on killing The Goddess, but is killed by a masked figure, The Grinder, whom Thomas witnesses force-feeding Frank's blood to The Goddess. Sneaking past, he finds Jennifer alive but strung up in a sack. As he releases her, he is knocked unconscious. He finds himself tethered to a meat-grinding table by hooks embedded into his hands and legs. He escapes and kills The Grinder.
Quinn reveals to a captive Jennifer and Andrea that he imprisoned The Goddess after he and Malcolm realized her powers. He plans to repeatedly impregnate them and use their offspring as blood sacrifices. The Goddess shows Thomas her history with the cult, and begs him to set her free; he grants her wish by immolating her. The village also catches fire and the villagers flee to boats. Thomas, Andrea, and Jennifer overpower and kill Quinn at the cost of Thomas sustaining stab wounds. He collapses, bidding Jennifer and Andrea farewell as they escape by boat. His faith restored, Thomas is discovered by an injured Malcolm. As he bleeds onto the ground, the vegetation around him grows and infuse within his body, while his eyes turn the same shape and color as the goddess's, signifying his rebirth as the new guardian of the island.
- Dan Stevens as Thomas Richardson
- Michael Sheen as Malcolm Howe, the leader of an island cult
- Mark Lewis Jones as Quinn, Malcolm's second-in-command
- Paul Higgins as Frank, a founder of the cult
- Lucy Boynton as Andrea Howe, Malcolm's daughter
- Bill Milner as Jeremy, Frank's son and Ffion's lover
- Kristine Froseth as Ffion, Quinn's daughter and Jeremy's lover
- Elen Rhys as Jennifer Richardson, Thomas' sister who has been kidnapped by Malcolm's cult
- Sharon Morgan as Her, the cult's goddess
- Sebastian McCheyne as The Grinder, a bloodied humanoid creature and keeper of Her
- Lex Lamprey as Townsman Guard
On 2 November 2016, it was announced that Gareth Evans was working on a new project that he would write and direct. Dan Stevens was confirmed to be cast in the lead role. In March 2017, the film was picked up by Netflix. Later that month, it was announced that Michael Sheen, Lucy Boynton, Bill Milner and Kristine Froseth had joined the cast. Filming started in April 2017. The film was largely shot on a set built at Margam Park in Neath Port Talbot, Wales.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 78%, based on 60 reviews, with an average rating of 6.7/10. The site's consensus reads, "Apostle resists easy scares in favor of a steady, slow-building descent into dread led by a commanding central performance from Dan Stevens." Metacritic reports a score of 62 out of 100, based on 17 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Variety, echoing other reviews, referred to the film as an homage to The Wicker Man. The Hollywood Reporter stated that "while climactic battles are violent, they never really thrill," concluding that "fans of The Raid [Evans' previous film series] should look elsewhere for their thrills." Collider and The A.V. Club gave Apostle more favorable reviews with a B and B minus respectively.
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- Nordine, Michael (6 May 2017). "Dan Stevens to Star in Gareth Evans Thriller 'Apostle'". IndieWire. Retrieved 30 December 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Bevan, Nathan (12 October 2018). "Michael Sheen's terrifying horror Apostle is now on Netflix". WalesOnline. Retrieved 13 October 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Dino-Ray Ramos (31 July 2018). "Fantastic Fest 2018 Sets 'Overlord', 'Apostle', & 'The Night Comes For Us' In First Wave Of Programming". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 4 November 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
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- "Apostle (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 21 March 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Apostle Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 30 October 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Debruge, Peter (12 October 2018). "Film Review: 'Apostle'". Variety. Retrieved 22 October 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- DeFore, John (2 October 2018). "'Apostle': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 22 October 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Foutch, Haleigh (11 October 2018). "'Apostle' Review". Collider. Retrieved 22 October 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Rife, Katie (11 October 2018). "The director of The Raid doesn't tone things down one bit for the gory folk-horror of Apostle". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 22 October 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)