Yes, I absolutely know that if you put the word Deconstruction in a movie review title it will attract only the really super smart people to this particular post. I mean, you are here… right?
So today I’ve got an out of the blue movie to spice up your Halloween. Just the other day I brought a wicked crazy movie called The Wailing to you all. And today, we have a period piece that runs along similar lines. So if you like clever horror movies, this might be right up your alley. But a word of warning to the squeamish… wow there’s a couple of scenes in here that will literally throw you under the bus, the bus will then proceed to back over you… and when you think you are good and clear? It’ll start bouncing on you like a Mexican Hydraulic Low-rider. (Can I even say that? Screw it. I said it.) Here, have a trailer, and then, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, I’m going to need you to go ahead and click that back button, or click here to watch it on Netflix now.
Ok now – Scoot. The rest of ya’ll (I’m really sorry, I’m in Memphis currently… it’s really rubbing off on me. Gah.) who’ve seen the movie, can stay.
Apostle Netflix Movie Overview
For such a disorientingly strange movie… the premise is simple enough. At the turn of the 20th century, 1905, Thomas Richardson’s (played by Dan Stevens, of Downton Abbey fame) sister (played by Ellen Rhys, known for her role in World War Z) has been abducted, and taken to an island of religious zealots of some sort or another. Now, the Prophet Malcolm Howe, (played by Michael Sheen of Nocturnal Animals insanity) the head of this reclusive enclave on a remote Welsh island, is the one that supposedly had abducted Thomas’ sister, in the hopes of ransoming her for a hefty sum. Well, Thomas, on the advice of his lawyer, decides he should infiltrate the cult, (let’s be honest, this is no God fearing, persecuted, religious sect) in order to validate his sister is still alive.
Right? So it’s simple. Sister stolen. Brother mad. Perfect. Infiltration plan in place. Check. Got it.
Thomas makes it into the sect by switching his ticket with someone else, which then ends up getting that guy killed. Because, this spiritual thing these guys are doing? Yeah, they aren’t too nice about it. It’s pretty obvious something else is going on. But soon enough, the Howe knows that the guy they interrogated wasn’t Thomas. And so the hunt for Thomas is on.
But there are about a million things wrong with this congregation. I had assumed, coming in (I didn’t watch the trailer – I just saw the Netflix recommendation and the actors and I was in) that the sect was just your standard weirdness. The growing, sprawling moss spreading across the back of the barn though? And when Jonathon looks in a window and sees a woman getting huge amounts of blood let from her arm? It’s all strange.
What is Netflix’s Movie Apostle About?!
So this cult was created when Howe, Frank, and Quinn shipwrecked on the island and discovered the goddess. Realizing the power they now had, the cult sprung up around them. After studying, reading, and researching the Celtic list of gods and goddesses I couldn’t find one that this goddess might be molded after. Nantosuelta seems to be the closest, maybe, of the bunch. But even so, she’s only a possible long shot. Nantosuelta is a Gaelic goddess of nature, the earth, and fertility. But her symbolism is that of the crow, and rivers. So, yeah… I don’t think the film makers had a goddess in mind from the Celtic Pantheon whom they modeled this experience after. Not that I could find anyway.
Howe, Frank and Quinn, have it easy at first. They fed the goddess the blood of animals that they caught, and the curse upon the land was lifted. But eventually, those sacrifices stop working – and human blood begins being used. Which, is why the entire group leaves jars of blood out each night, these donations are given to the goddess to keep the land in a fruitful state. But these donations soon fail as well. And in order to keep his people alive, Howe decides to kidnap Thomas’ sister, and ransom her. This money would then be used to feed the families.
Thomas, initially safe from questions by protecting Howe from an assassin sent by the king (something about back taxes), eventually loses this covering. And Howe, eventually having lost Thomas, uses the threat of killing his sister in the street in order to draw him out.
Simultaneously, there is a side story of young love between Ffion and Jeremy. Ffion is pregnant, and Jeremy and the two would like to run away. But before anyone can even contemplate the news of this pregnancy, Quinn (one of the three leaders of the cult), Ffion’s father, decides he is going to end the pregnancy, and ends up killing Ffion brutally. And when Jeremy and Quinn fight, Quinn is hurt, and brings these attacks to the community. Blaming Jeremy for the murder of Ffion. And Quinn decides to put Jeremy to the “Heathen Stand.” And this is possibly one of the most brutal things I’ve ever seen in a film. Basically Jeremy is put on a table and a screw driver devices drills into Jeremy’s head and kills him.
When Jeremy’s dad goes mental, Thomas runs and frees his sister. But he’s knocked out. When he awakes, he is mounted to a torture device by hooks. The Mangler attempts to blood let him via crushing, for the goddess… but Thomas crushes the Mangler instead. Thomas, under the control of the goddess, sets her ablaze (which puts in question the entire ending, if you ask me.)
Well, Quinn, ever the happy camper, is fairly excited about taking the role of leader from Howe. He’s got a new plan. It’s a great plan. Tell me if you’d sign up for this particular time share if given the pitch. Quinn, will utilize Andrea (Howe’s daughter if you’ve lost your scorecard) and Jennifer (Thomas’ sister) to create offspring… in order to feed them to the goddess. Did I mention the timeshare also has tennis courts and a lively cocktail bar? Right.
And as the movie devolves towards a conclusion, Quinn ends up shivving the heck out of Thomas, which basically guarantees he’s not going anywhere. And of course, Quinn dies… because, you know, he’s a letch, and a crazy man.
The Morals of the Movie Apostle
And as we move through the movie, Andrea – Howe’s daughter – becomes our proxy as the confused observer. She was the one trying to figure out which way this story should go. Where the moral high ground was. Is it true that my father is false? Is it true that he is harming people intentionally? But wait just a second, oh dear reader… I want to flip this conversation on its head for you. Is he wrong? Was he? If the goddess were real. And, in the movie’s world, they purported her to be real, were his actions wrong? Because its not as simple as one would think.
Think about it… you trip across a secluded field, and find an old woman with enormous power. God-like powers. What do you do?
- Begin a blood thirsty cult that is predicated on blood.
- Sell timeshare slots predicated on getting close to the goddess.
- Run like hell.
Which brings us to Thomas’ own personal theological journey. We know for a fact that he once was a missionary that went to Peking. And we also know that while there he was tortured while calling out for God. And when God didn’t part the heavens to save him (yes, that is incredulity you hear in my voice) he abandoned God. So, we know that this piece of the story is important, but we don’t know exactly why. Do you have ideas?
Personally there can only be two options really. (Or three, the third being that the screenplay writer was just being random… but let’s assume he wasn’t. Gareth Evans!? I’m looking at you buddy, maybe we could do an interview and find out for sure?!) The first? That Gareth is telling Thomas that his abandonment of God was a little too soon… because look, here be demons, demigods, something very real, something very supernatural. Or the second? That Thomas’ time in Peking sent him over the edge, and all the goddess bits? All in his mind. None of that really happened.
But, did you guys notice, that in the initial meeting where the Apostle introduces everyone in the chapel, something interesting happens. I thought I saw something at first, but the movie actually refers back to this moment later on. Thomas notices a woman walking around the outside of the congregation. And the Apostle notices Thomas’ noticing. Well, the Apostle mentions this to the goddess. Is Thomas the next heir apparent? And was he the chosen one to set her free by lighting her ablaze? Does that mean that Thomas will be connected to the goddess in another form? Hrmm. Fascinating.
What did you guys think of the movie? Oh, and here are a few similar bespoke movie recommendations if you dug this one.
Edited by, CY
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