Apostle’s Most Gruesome Scene Was Influenced By The Director’s Dad

Apostle 2018 Heathen's Stand Gareth Evans

Director Gareth Evans' new movie Apostle features multiple brutal scenes throughout its runtime, but it's also a horror film that has a sense of restraint. Rather than constantly pushing your face into blood and gore, the move that it makes more often than not is suggesting really horrible violence and then letting imaginations fill in the blanks. It's a strategy that's actually really effective, and what's funny is the approach was partially influenced by Evans' father, as I learned during a recent interview. The filmmaker explained,

I've always had a thing like I can only rely on my own internal barometer for what's okay and what's not okay, and I can't really be too concerned about what other people have as their own personal barometers. I know my mother's barometer is very, very different than mine. My father's barometer kind of lines up a little more closely to my own. And my dad has always kind of said, 'Look, as long as it's not gratuitous, and it's not exploitative then it's all right.' You just kind of get behind it. So I always try to kind of think like, 'Well, what would be the thing that would cross the line with him?' And then pull it back from there.

I had the pleasure of sitting down one-on-one with Gareth Evans last month following Apostle's premiere at Austin, Texas' Fantastic Fest, and during that conversation one subject discussed was the writer/director's approach to violence. Acknowledging that his new movie doesn't get too overly explicit, I asked Evans about his personal philosophy in the area. As it turns out, one factor he keeps in mind during the production/editing phases is how his dad would feel watching the material, and judges from there.

Going further, Gareth Evans specifically highlighted what will ultimately be seen as one of Apostle's most notorious scenes -- what he describes as the Heathen's Stand. Appearing toward the end of the movie, it's a torture device that primarily gets the job done with what are essentially giant, hand-turned corkscrews. Without going into detail, it's all pretty disgusting, but it's much more about the ideas than actually what's shown on screen. Discussing the sequence, Evans said,

When it came to like things like the sequence with the Heathen's Stand, it was always about I'm going to show you how the mechanism works. I'm going to show you how it all functions, and how if you turned this, it goes there; if you turn this, that goes there. And then from then on in it's just you, and I'm not going to show you that. I'm going to show people's reactions to it, and I'm going to have a shot that's not giving you any of the detail. But then you're going to be putting that in your own head in a way. So that kind of works for that.

"Works" is arguably an understatement, as Apostle is definitely a film properly timed for release during the Halloween season. It's definitely a movie that gets in your head, and features some gnarly, disturbing stuff.

If you haven't had the opportunity to watch it already, Apostle is now available to all Netflix streaming subscribers. Give it a viewing, and prepare to watch a good chunk of it through the spaces between your fingers.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.