The newest film from the British director behind the “Raid” films probably isn’t what anyone was expecting from a man who has so far specialised in over the top martial arts action. Instead of the Indonesian mafia, we get a religious cult who have isolated themselves on a remote welsh island in the early years of the 20th century.
The film follows Thomas, on a journey to find and rescue his sister, who is being held for ransom by the cult. Posing as a convert he manages to gain passage on a cult controlled ferry to the island, and takes the place of another as a new resident.
On the surface the community seems relatively benign; a village full of families, all working together to support themselves without the oversight and laws of the British mainland. In fact it transpires the religious community was founded by 3 convicts as an act of contrition. However it soon becomes clear that there is something more going on.
Thomas spends his nights exploring the community, looking for clues of his sister under cover of darkness. He soon finds the darker side of the community, I don’t want to spoil anything here, but there is something supernatural going on behind the scenes, and it appears that all the other residents know about it too.
Netflix obviously put a lot of money behind this production, and I’m happy to report it shows in all aspects of the film: the cast are all excellent, with a lot of big British stars throughout, from Dan Stevens (from the underrated “The Guest”) as Thomas, to Welsh star Michael Sheen as the leader of the community. The quality continues with the special effects, cinematography and set design. The only thing that I felt slightly jarring was some of the language used by the characters – I don’t know if that’s what British English sounded like 100 odd years ago, but it took a little while to fall into the groove of the language.
The film moves along at a steady pace (if somewhat slow in the first 2 acts), and aside from the main story of Thomas’s quest, there are a couple of other big plot lines that all coalesce in the final act, which ramps up the violence and gore, but never feels gratuitous.
If you’re interested in a more considered horror film, in the vein of “The Witch”, then you can’t go wrong with “Apostle”. Any shortcomings in the pace are made up by the high production value and the exciting 3rd act. I’m a big fan of the Raid films, and whilst I would love a 3rd entry in that franchise, I’m also excited to see any new horror output from Director Gareth Evans.