Hallelujah! The first trailer for Apostle is out and sweet Jesus it looks great.
It’s Gareth Evans’ follow-up to The Raid and The Raid 2, a vicious one-two punch that revolutionised the action genre. It’s been four long years since our screens have been graced with one of his films and this UK-based horror looks like the perfect thing to break the drought with.
Apostle is set in 1905 and follows a chap named Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens, TV’s Legion and, um, Downton Abbey) journeying to a remote island to rescue his sister from a religious cult. The baddies seem like a really nasty lot with a penchant for torture, grotesque public executions and some sort of occultic evil – but Richardson will turn out to be a bit of an arse kicker and all hell will break loose.
Evans is a filmmaker who is fixated on presenting onscreen violence with as much impact as possible. He’s extremely gifted at doing this, masterfully creating visceral set pieces that have amazing clarity and a hugely satisfying rhythm to them.
He’s also not shy at all about showcasing extreme brutality and often pushes boundaries in this regard – the length of time a shot held on a head that had just come apart from a point-blank shotgun blast in The Raid 2 still amazes me.
Here’s a closer look at the top four most horrific moments from the Apostle trailer.
The head drill
We’ve seen power drills used to inflict massive head trauma in movies loads of times, but never quite like this. I mean, just look at this bloody thing! It’s hand-powered, rusty and functionally like a holesaw – so the inner small drill will burrow into the skull before the wider outer one will rip out a massive chunk of the head. We get a tease of the executioner putting it to work and it’s just as fucking disgusting as you imagine. Woo hoo!
Seeing blades get rammed into limbs then awfully zigged and zagged around to create massive wounds is one of the more cringe-inducing of Evans’ specialties. Here, it’s done a lot slower than Iko Uwais in that hallway in The Raid, but it feels even more sinister. There’s something ritualistic going on and presenting blood flowing out of a fresh gash to a cowering child makes it all kinds of wrong. Yay!
What kind of an English religious horror wouldn’t include crosses on fire? Not this one. The reflection of a flaming crucifix in a terrified eye is one of the more striking images in the clip, teased some months ago by Evans online. It’s a different type of striking seeing some poor bugger have his tied hands yanked apart before a smouldering red-hot iron brander is pressed excruciatingly into his back. You can almost smell the foul stench of searing skin and flesh. Yippee!
The meat grinder
The final moneyshot in the trailer teases a particularly gruesome punishment in which the victim is tied up on a rack and dragged into a huge mincer, fingers first. This looks like a really well-made prop put to good use, in a way that made me wince and recoil every one of the 23 times I watched this trailer on repeat upon first discovering it. Something about it perfectly communicates the terror of having your fingers slowly and savagely ground into mush. It’s sickening. Yee-har!
Apostle‘s synopsis is nice and brief. Apart from a few concise comments on his Instagram page, Evans hasn’t said much about the film. Dan Stevens, the lead actor, has been a little more forthcoming – harrowingly telling Yahoo Movies that Apostle is his “Brexit film” which he hopes will “pop a few brains”. It’s unclear if he meant something other than the head drill.
In the interview with Flickering Myth below, Stevens called Evans “the Welsh Tarantino”, adding that “nobody sells violence like him. He’s very, very gifted at that.” Damn straight.
I like that we don’t know much about the film before we get to watch the whole thing in less than a month. The trailer gives an idea of tone and teases some moments of violence, but offers very little that could potentially be spoilery.
There’s a lot of other stuff in this two-minute video to get excited about too – the super creepy masks and religious imagery, the glimpses at spectacular cinematography, Michael Sheen looking positively psychotic.
It looks like The Wicker Man meets Saw III. It looks insanely intense. It looks like the best direct-to-Netflix film yet and I cannot bloody wait.
Apostle streams on Netflix from October 12. Think you can handle the trailer? Watch it below.