Apostle

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Apostle Movie Poster Image
Graphically violent thriller has torture, gore, black magic.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 130 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Meant to shock, scare, and entertain, not inspire.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hero is courageous, resourceful, and cautious in the face of escalating danger. Typical cult leaders are evil, motivated by desire for greed and power. No ethnic diversity; women play subsidiary roles.

Violence

Brutal, bloody, heartless from beginning to end. No detail is left to the imagination. Characters (male and female, young and old) are slaughtered by gunfire, stabbings, impalement, various forms of torture, hanging, multiple slit throats, fire, and savage hand-to-hand combat. They are held captive in coffins, burlap bags, and dungeon-like caves. Animals are treated cruelly. An emaciated stillborn lamb is delivered. People are often covered in blood, slime, waste. Shots of a body cut in half.

Sex

A fully clothed young couple engage in sexual intercourse -- shot entirely on the girl's back. The young woman in spied upon as she maneuvers a mirror to see whether or not she's pregnant.

Language

"Harlot," "whore," "Jesus Christ." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alcohol is served in a bar-like setting. Characters use eyedroppers to ingest unidentified drugs. Smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Apostle, part horror movie, part thriller, is set on an island in Great Britain in 1905. A young man with a painful past sneaks into a religious cult to rescue the sister he loves. Believing that she's being held there against her will, he's prepared for danger, but not for the bloodshed and bizarre events he encounters. Violence is extensive and very gory. Characters are killed and severely wounded in excruciatingly detailed scenes using all manner of weaponry and torture, including, but not limited to, stabbing, impaling, hanging, burning, gunfire, and savage beatings. Grotesque human-like creatures (some mystical) are ferocious and lethal. The film is an almost nonstop blood bath, with suffering and fear heightened to extremes. Participants are often covered in blood and sometimes waste. Some mild profanity is heard: "harlot," "whore," "Jesus Christ." The hero is shown to have a reliance on a liquid drug that he ingests using an eyedropper. Alcohol is consumed; a character smokes cigarettes. A young couple, fully clothed, is shown having sexual intercourse. The young woman is later spied upon as she uses a mirror to try to determine if she's pregnant. Not for kids.

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What's the story?

Having been through his own travails in a far-off place, Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens) sets out to rescue his sister who is being held captive by a religious cult in APOSTLE. It's 1905, and the island that the cult inhabits holds innumerable dangers, not the least of which is the group's religious leader, Prophet Malcolm (Michael Sheen). Thomas infiltrates the group. Malcolm is holding his sister for ransom and is aware that an imposter is among the newly arrived cult members. He does all within his power to ferret out the identity of the deceiver. Thomas' presence endangers other members of the group as the cult leaders kill and torture with impunity. After he blackmails a young cult member who has his own secrets, the situation worsens. What began as a treacherous task for Thomas becomes something even worse as he discovers deeper, darker secrets on the island.

Is it any good?

With his complex tale, driven by an exhaustive onslaught of violence and gore, Welsh writer-director Gareth Evans is considered a filmmaker to watch; it's true, but only if you have a strong stomach. Apostle is down, dirty, and grisly from start to finish. And the movie is two hours and 10 minutes long. There are twists and turns in the plot, mostly delivered by knives and spears. It would be difficult to even count the number of folks impaled and then kept on-screen to writhe as they expire. You may think you've seen the most appalling and ghastly of events, but another is only moments away. Apostle is a dark film, in content and in look, with a cast of good actors who may have relished their immersion in blood and guts. It's not certain which audiences will. Absolutely not for kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Apostle. Many horror films are intended primarily to scare viewers, and keep much of the blood and gore offscreen. This film revels in showing the killings in detail. When is violence excessive? How can you decide how much is too much? Why is it important to be aware of the impact of violence on kids?  

  • For what audience(s) do you think writer-director Gareth Evans intended this movie? Do you like to be scared? How do you feel about the "ewww" factor in filmmaking? What is there about movies with so much graphic violence that people enjoy?

  • When asked why he chose to play Lex Luthor in Superman, actor Gene Hackman is said to have answered, "You mean besides the two million dollars?" Have you ever wondered why actors choose particular roles? What are some of the reasons they might accept them (e.g., a great story or screenplay, relationships with filmmakers, a waning career)? 

  • What is a "cult"? In Apostle, the cult is a religious one. This movie is set in 1905. What kinds of cults still exist today? What do you think might lead someone to abandon their independence and rely on a dominant leader?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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