Horror films come in all shapes and sizes. There’s big-budgeted Hollywood blockbusters, micro-budgeted indie features, horror flicks full of gore and action, and the more somber, slow-paced horror film that was made to make the viewer think. THE APOSTATE: CALL OF THE REVENANT fits squarely in the latter category and is completely successful in what it sets out to accomplish. THE APOSTATE is a character-driven study presented in a mystery as we watch detective Hollie Andrews (Terri Dwyer) interrogating Lance Cooper (James Bryhan) as to the happenings in an abandoned underground parking garage. Writer-director Andy Dodd expertly weaves together Andrews’ questioning Cooper and flashbacks of what really occurred on the night in question.
As the film opens we see Cooper waking up in the above mentioned parking garage covered in what is apparently his own blood. He’s confused, he’s disoriented, and he has absolutely no idea where he is, how he got there, who put him there, and how he’s going to get out. I really enjoyed the long, lingering shots of Cooper as we watch him trying to figure out what is going on. Cinematographers Dodd and Catherine Kerr-Phillips use the camera to really give the viewer a sense of Cooper’s disorientation. We get both wide shots of Cooper as well as some very tight, claustrophobic ones as he tries to figure out and comprehend his situation. The viewer is just as much in the dark about Cooper’s situation as he is. We then suddenly shift to a well-lit, sterile looking interrogation room as Andrews is questioning Cooper. At first Andrews is nice and accommodating. She’s acting as though she wants to be Cooper’s partner in discovering what happened that night in the parking garage.
But as the flashbacks and interrogations proceed we find out that Cooper was the only survivor of what can be called a small massacre in the garage. As the interrogation progresses Andrews gets more and more aggressive. Is this just a case of an over-zealous detective trying to make a collar or is there something else going on here. We see from other flashbacks that Cooper’s young daughter was recently kidnapped and murdered and that soon after a strange man introduced himself to Cooper calling himself The Revenant (Anthony Webster). To give anymore details of the plot would be to spoil the impact. Those living in the U.K may be familiar with this story which is based on real life events. Usually that monicker on a film has me running the other direction but in this case it’s actually an important element in the film. Not being familiar with the real life case I was intrigued and completely captivated with this story and how it unfolded.
THE APOSTATE has a lot going for it. The writing and direction are spot on. Dodd has complete control over the material and effortlessly navigates between the present day and flashback scenes. What could have gotten confusing stays focused and relevant. We also get some fantastic performances. James Bryhan (Cooper) gives an intense, raw, and very physical performance. From the time he first wakes up in the parking garage until the final scene, Bryhan completely sells you on his character and his character’s arc. The other main actor here is Terri Dwyer (Detective Andrews). She also proves herself as having complete understanding of her character. She’s tough, focused, and at times can even be a little manipulative. She does a great job walking that fine line between being sincere in her interrogation and being someone who may have a hidden agenda. Together, Bryhan and Dwyer’s performances elevate this film and sell the audience on their characters.
THE APOSTATE: CALL OF THE REVENANT isn’t a fast-paced, gory film. This is one of those slow-burners that has you thinking the entire length of the film and wondering, at times, just what the hell is going on. This, I imagine, is exactly what Dodd set out to accomplish. The ending came as somewhat of a shock to me and got me even more invested in the characters. THE APOSTATE is a character-driven horror film that explores the nature of loss, grief, suffering, and mental illness in a way that echoes back onto the real world. This is a great film and will have you thinking about it days after the end credits roll.
Director: Andy Dodd (& writer, producer, co-cinematographer, editor, & visual effects artist)
Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Gore: 1.5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer