Updated: Jun 1, 2019
Directed by: #AndyDodd
I’m always been doubtful of films with a colon in the title: does it need that much explanation; it is just the title after all? No, this is different because it tells us a story almost by itself. The opening 60 seconds are a statement of intent as a bloodied woman is slowly dragged along the floor; we should, even at this early stage consider our spines lightly chilled. Lance Cooper (Jay Bryhan) awakes with serious wounds in a disused car park. Four mutilated victims are also found with no ready explanation of events. Cooper is questioned by Detective Inspector Hollie Andrews (Terri Dwyer) as the facts slowly unravel in flashback.
Four weeks after the event Cooper is sufficiently recovered for interview but his recollection is sketchy. He recounts the trauma of losing daughter Jessica but not how he sustained physical injury. Andrews confronts Cooper with details of the victims; he only admits to meeting Michelle Laine (Carol Cummings) but denies all knowledge of Thomas Harris (Bob Sanderson). Psychiatric reports suggest he suffers periodic bouts of amnesia. A convenient shield for Cooper’s actions; or is he really the victim of an unknown assailant? He points the finger at one Stephen Lloyd (Anthony Webster), whom he mysteriously dubs the revenant. A long haired messianic figure, Lloyd claims he can heal Cooper’s grief.
Flashback is one of the oldest cinematic techniques but director Andy Dodd makes it work in The Apostate: Call of the Revenant with razor sharp editing; the conflict of interrogation versus rampant terror. We are presented with alternative versions of the truth and characters walking a fine line between sanity and madness. Cooper plays manipulator against victim with such skill that Andrews cannot easily spot the join. As sole survivor there are no witnesses to contradict or tie him to a trail of destruction.
Graphic scenes of violence are kept to a minimum and are all the more gripping when they do emerge; even so, a wounded Cooper trying to crawl away from a bloodstained axe is visually more shocking. Simple touches give the film a terrific edge, particularly Michelle in close up with her screams muted in horror. Terri Dwyer loses the Hollyoaks tag with a confident portrayal of the hard bitten detective. However, Jay Bryhan delivers a genuinely menacing performance as Cooper, and wins my vote as the bloke who’s pint you’d least like to spill.