There's something kind of impressive about the modern movie landscape where I hear about a film directed by Gareth Evans (The Raid), starring the likes of Dan Stevens and Michael Sheen, for the first time and that evening can play it on Netflix. In truth it is a film that premiered at Fantastic Fest last month, but it is clear that "straight to streaming" doesn't have the negative implications that "straight to video" used to. On the other hand, those old instincts die hard and when one of these films succeeds as much as Apostle does, you kind of wish it had gone into theatres.
Apostle definitely owes a lot to The Wicker Man. Thomas (Stevens) heads to an island dominated by a cult in search of a missing (or in this case held hostage for ransom) person, his sister. While the first half moves at a slower pace, as the community beliefs and practices are highlighted, the tension lies in that Thomas is at risk of being found out at any point. Again like The Wicker Man, the second half is where it fully devolves into madness. This is a proper nasty film but it is done with creativity and flair that it doesn't feel off-putting. Add in threads of thematic inquiry about nature, patriarchy, religion, etc. and it is quite the nourishing delight of a horror film. Certainly one of the surprises/discoveries of the year.