For decades, slashers have overrun the horror genre. Whether it’s for revenge or recreation, the killer is the star of the film. One sub-genre that breaks this mold is cult-horror. Having a group as the antagonist adds so much more to the scare factor as the unpredictability of various personalities collide. Netflix’s “Apostle” does exactly this, creating a world that feels authentic and all the more terrifying. After receiving a ransom, a brother must infiltrate a religious cult in order to save his captured sister. There’s just one thing, the cult lives on a secluded island.
Rather than a simple search and rescue thriller, this film has several layers to it. It’s much better to go in with a blind eye. Even a quick glance at the trailer would spoil some surprising moments. Thankfully my mind forgot most of the trailer, giving me fresh eyes when watching the film. The beginning really establishes a plan to infiltrate the island, but it quickly grows into something much more.
The scare factor of “Apostle” jumps from a decent amount of suspense to a disturbingly frightful level. Several moments, especially as the film builds, depict gruesome violence. Those who are easily affected by gore should look away. We get to see truly horrid elements played out, and some that are left for the imagination- which sometimes can be worse. It isn’t trying to be gore to shock viewers but acts as a story element as it showcases the horrors that the characters are encountering.
On the side of visual storytelling, the beauty of “Apostle” is very apparent. Gloomy skies and dark water meet the island, creating a tease of the darkness that is to come. Imagery is gritty yet picturesque. The cinematographer has a keen eye when it comes to capturing a story as angles and camera movement work in unison to create a narrative. Add the score to this and you have a well-crafted package. The offkey plucking of strings and tapping of piano keys are played in a way that adds an uneasiness to scenes. It’s films like these that are great examples of how important music is to film. On mute the movie is gorgeous, however, the score adds another level to the horror.
I’ve been a fan of Dan Stevens and Lucy Boyton since watching them in their respective roles in “The Guest” and “Sing Street”. Here my infatuation only grows as they lead the well-performed cast. Both grab your attention as they play whatever the given scene is trying to convey from an emotional standpoint. The ensemble really sells the sometimes outlandish moments with their serious demeanors. A few monologues and conversations are chilling as you begin to believe that these characters are real.
I wouldn’t add “Apostle” to my October rotation of horror films, though it is a great choice when you are skimming through Netflix and about to choose a 5th binge watch of your favorite show. It’s intense, has emotions and a genuinely creepy third act.