Welsh director Gareth Evans has spent the better part of a decade putting Indonesian action cinema on the map. The Raid flicks are two of the best balls-to-the-wall adrenaline rushes you’re ever likely to experience watching movies, but there’s more to Evans than blistering martial arts. For his next feature, he’s out to prove that with a period-set horror thriller.
Taking place in 1905, Apostle follows a man who travels to a remote British island to retrieve his sister from a cult. Naturally, this sect is led by a fanatical lunatic who doesn’t like outsiders sticking their noses into his business. At the same time, our hero isn’t the type of guy you want to mess with, either.
If the premise alone doesn’t sell you, maybe the cast will. The line-up includes Dan Stevens, Michael Sheen, Kristine Froseth, and Lucy Boynton. It’s weird to see an Evans movie without his Indonesian action entourage in sight, but his new team is formidable in their own right.
When you watch this intense trailer, your mind will instantly recall movies like The Wicker Man, The Witchfinder General, and Black Death. Apostle is tonally and thematically reminiscent of classic British folk horror and motion pictures of that sinister ilk. The violence and eeriness on display will send chills down your spine. Every frame oozes hysteria. Have a look for yourself:
Have you caught your breath yet? I haven’t. But that’s because I love being proved right. At the start of the year I wrote about how Apostle is going to be one of 2018’s best movies. This trailer has more or less confirmed my bold prediction.
The movie looks excellent, albeit in a cold, cruel, and unrelenting sort of way. Don’t expect this one to be fun. This is one of those experiences where the viewer will be pulled into the heart of darkness alongside the film’s protagonist.
A horror movie is a natural progression for Evans. He’s always had one in him and you can tell he’s been itching to unleash the terror on this scale for a while. He once claimed that The Raid is more or less a survival horror film in the guise of a bone-crunching martial arts extravaganza. He wasn’t wrong. The movie would be terrifying if you weren’t convinced that Iko Uwais is an unstoppable machine who will overcome any and every threat he faces.
But Evans’ work has always dealt with horrific subject matter. His debut, Footsteps, explores a depraved underworld with shadowy organizations and snuff films, after all. He’s also no stranger to stories about maniacal cults. His V/H/S/2 segment, “Safe Haven” (which he co-wrote and directed with fellow genre maverick Timo Tjahjanto), follows a documentary crew that gets more than they bargained for when they infiltrate a commune. Bad things happen, culminating in a reveal for the ages that will make you think twice about tracking down evil cults any time soon.
Still, Apostle looks nothing like Evans’ previous films and that’s what makes it such a mouth-watering project. Despite containing some ideas and sensibilities he’s already familiar with, this is a departure in many ways. This could also be the movie that gives the director his big break in the West, but hopefully he keeps getting to make movies (and TV shows) on his own terms going forward.