Note: Contains MAJOR spoilers for Apostle.
Not for the faint-hearted, Netflix’s twisted folk horror Apostle doesn’t pull any punches in either its gore level or weirdness factor.
Directed by The Raid‘s Gareth Evans, Apostle is set in 1905 and stars Dan Stevens as Thomas Richardson, who returns home to discover his sister Jennifer (Elen Rhys) has been kidnapped by a mysterious religious cult led by Michael Sheen’s Prophet Malcolm.
The cult are demanding a ransom for Jennifer’s safe return, so Thomas travels to their island of Erisden to infiltrate the community and save her. Before you can say Wicker Man, Thomas discovers that the cult is hiding some seriously dark secrets.
And if you haven’t watched Apostle yet, this is your last chance to turn away as we’re about to uncover all of the cult’s secrets with some major spoilers.
In case it wasn’t clear from the whole kidnapping thing, it doesn’t take long for Thomas to realise that everything is not right with Malcolm and the island of Erisden.
Prophet Malcolm is expecting Jennifer’s father to travel to the island for the ransom and seems to have him marked out with a red dot on his ticket. Spotting this, Thomas swaps the ticket with that of an unfortunate stranger, who we later see is killed by Malcolm and his cohorts Quinn (Mark Lewis Jones) and Frank (Paul Higgins).
As Thomas manages to stay undercover in the cult, he discovers that they worship a mysterious deity known only as Her (Sharon Morgan) who Malcolm says “chose my tongue through which to speak”. Part of this worship includes leaving jars of their blood outside their doors at night, because of course.
Thomas soon meets Frank’s son Jeremy (Bill Milner) who is having a secret relationship with Quinn’s daughter Ffion (Kristine Froseth) and discovers the truth about his sister. “We only wanted his money so we wouldn’t starve,” Jeremy tells Thomas who adds that the crops have been failing on Erisden.
But before you get worried that it’s literally The Wicker Man and a sacrifice is on the way, we get our first proper look at Her and what she is to the island.
After Thomas saves Malcolm’s life from an assassin, Malcolm tries to get Jennifer’s ransom by parading her through the community and then throwing a celebration so that he can search everyone’s rooms. This only gives Thomas the cover to sneak out and follow Malcolm to a church hidden out in the woods. Unfortunately, this involves Thomas having to go through a creepy underground tunnel where he’s pursued by Her.
Above ground, Malcolm visits Her and we see she’s pretty much a part of the environment (a bit like the Three-Eyed Raven in Game of Thrones). Malcolm’s not happy that Her showed herself to Thomas, and we discover that it’s all her fault that the crops are failing.
“He won’t worship you as I. No more shall you poison our crop. I swear you shall starve unless you give us pure harvest,” he threatens, before feeding Her his blood and we see the plants growing around Her.
Oh, and we also get the first glimpse of Her’s companion (or guard) who is called The Grinder (Sebastian McCheyne) for reasons that will later become clear.
In a conversation with Malcolm’s daughter Andrea (Lucy Boynton), Thomas reveals that he used to be religious, but a trip to Peking to show them “the glory and love of God himself” only resulted in them showing him “the devil”.
He questions Andrea about what’s happening on the island and she tells him that she believes Her’s “strength is fading”, but he wonders whether “something has angered her”. It’s hinted that it could be Jeremy and Ffion’s affair which has resulted in Ffion falling pregnant, something that her father Quinn isn’t best pleased with.
But really it’s likely Quinn that Her is angry with, as it’s revealed that Malcolm and Quinn found Her when they first arrived on Erisden. Once they saw what she could do by making the crops thrive, they basically kept her a prisoner and forcefed her blood, first bird and later human.
This all comes out after Quinn is revealed to be the real villain of Apostle, after he kills his daughter, frames Jeremy for it and puts him on the Heathen’s Stand. In the grimmest sequence of the movie, poor Jeremy gets a drill into his brain to be “cleansed”.
It’s all too much for Jeremy’s father Frank, who calls Her a “God in chains, poisoning us from the inside out” and goes to kill Her to put an end to it, once and for all. He’s killed by The Grinder, but not before he tells Thomas to “burn it all down”.
At least Jeremy’s body doesn’t go to waste as we witness The Grinder feeding it to Her, giving Thomas the chance to free his sister. They get a short-lived tearful reunion as The Grinder knocks Thomas out and Quinn takes Jennifer away, having shot Malcolm (but not killing him).
“It was I who imprisoned her. I, who discovered what she could do for us,” Quinn tells a captive Jennifer and Andrea, adding that Her is “no God, she’s just a machine, you feed her and she delivers”.
“Malcolm, he was soft. When the blood of the animals stopped working, he tried to feed her himself. He fell victim to faith. He would have let us all starve, instead of doing what needed to be done, instead of feeding her what she needed to be fed.”
And what Her needs to be fed, according to Quinn, is human blood and flesh, even the “flesh of your womb”, he tells Andrea and Jennifer.
It’s what The Grinder has planned for Thomas, hooking him up to his rudimentary grinder machine, but all it costs Thomas is a few fingers as he successfully fights back and kills The Grinder, before going over to Her who tells him: “How I’ve waited for you, my son.”
Her holds Thomas’s head and asks him to “free me, my child”, so he burns Her alive in a fire that quickly spreads to the rest of the community. There’s still time though for Thomas to rescue Jennifer and Andrea, even if it’s at the cost of Quinn stabbing Thomas several times.
The three of them stumble towards the last boat to leave Erisden, yet Thomas knows he can’t make it and sends Jennifer away. “Get on that boat, live, and be the light that guides me to eternity,” he pleads, unaware that he’s not going to die – at least, not yet.
As Malcolm joins Thomas in watching them leave, Thomas discovers that his blood is making the crops grow again and as he lays down, they enter him and his eyes change like Her’s, marking him as her replacement on the island.
Here’s hoping he’s not vegan.
Apostle is now available to watch on Netflix.
Go to the cinema a lot? Did you know you can get unlimited cinema tickets plus 10% off food and drink and access to exclusive preview screenings with Cineworld’s Unlimited Card?
Source: Read Full Article