Apostle ★★½

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Writer-director Gareth Evans’ bone-crunching Indonesian action diptych 'The Raid' (2011) and 'The Raid 2' (2013) is many things – bloody, propulsive, ludicrous – but it is certainly not *unfocused*. The same cannot be said of Evans’ first foray into feature-length horror, 'Apostle'. Set in the early years of the 1900s, the film follows Thomas (Dan Stevens) as he infiltrates an xenophobic pagan cult on a remote Welsh island. Posing as a newly converted pilgrim, Thomas seeks his missing sister, who is allegedly being held for ransom by the cult leadership, among them the charismatic prophet Malcomb (Michael Sheen). It’s plain Evans has enthusiasm for the material here, which blends elements of 'The Crucible', 'The Wicker Man' (1973), and 'Children of the Corn' (1984) into a forbidding and gruesome tale of ritual practice gone gangrenous. Unfortunately, the director’s propensity for indulgence leads to numerous scenes that – while often harrowing in the moment – feel protracted, meandering, and disconnected from the story as a whole.