The movie is a slow burn. It takes a while to get where it’s going, and then the last 45 minutes happens, and I was going crazy in my seat. When do you know how to pump the brakes on violence and how to really go for it? I feel like there are scenes where you’re holding back, and then scenes where you’re like, “Nope, you’re going to see all of this.” How do you balance that?

I think it’s, tonally, what are we trying to get from an audience, and what are we trying to say as well? For me, a scene like the heathen stand, for instance, I’ll show you how that table works, how the mechanism works, I’ll show you how everything functions, I’ll let you know everything up until that last minute detail, and when the violence happens, I’m going to cut away to show you somebody else’s reaction. When I do cut back to that character, I’m still at a distance and I’m not showing you the detail of it. But it’s all in your head now. For me, that’s more disturbing. And that needed to be like that, because that one, it should never have been and it would never have been right to do a thing that’s purely about viscera. That is a sequence that needs to feel like it hurts. It’s gotta hurt emotionally, and it’s about the man who’s about to take over this community almost as a dictatorship, almost a militaristic, usurping control of the situation. For me, that one would never have played well if I’d gone full tilt with the gore and everything else. It was more methodical, almost like a medical thing [showing] each individual piece and item.

When it comes to something like the grinder table, for example, that’s a totally different thing. That’s a horror action beat. For that one, you kind of need to show certain things. And even then, when we do show stuff, we’ll show you a hand but when it burns you’ll look across to Dan’s reaction, and then we’ll cut to the grinder. And then you’ll get little snippets of gore detail, but for the majority of it, we’re moving away from it. We don’t stay on one thing for too long. That’s always just been my personal preference and my personal barometer for what’s OK and what’s not OK. It’ll differ for everyone. (laughs) I am not in any way expecting the majority of people to have the same barometer as me. But for me, it’s always been a case of understanding exactly what you said: when is the right time to pump the brakes on something, when is the right time to be like, “We’re OK to go full tilt on something.”

Speaking of the grinder, let’s talk about the shirtless henchman with the strange mask. At what point did you realize, “I’m going to remove all context from this guy and let him be just this creepy motherfucker?”

The guy who came in for that was great, by the way, Sebastian, his name is. He came in initially as a background artist character, and he came in and we auditioned him for that role. He took on all of the physicality of it. He was really, really good – totally committed. For me, it was like, that guy doesn’t need a backstory. He doesn’t need to be explained. The fact that he opens the door for Malcolm into this weird barn, and the fact that that guy is almost like the gatekeeper of that location and the protector of the person within, doesn’t need any more explanation. The fact that they have this weird relationship, like when he tries to give her the funnel to feed her, she doesn’t want it, but he strokes her hair to say like, “No, it’s OK, you need to feed.” It’s just weird. It’s really strange and unusual, but I think if I explained it, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as effective. Some things you just don’t need to fully understand in that respect.

Lots of people are going to see this on Netflix. What I want to do is give people homework. What inspired you? What should they double, triple, quadruple-feature with Apostle?

Five films?

Let’s do five, yes.

I’ve said these five films all day today, so I’ll say them again. Witchfinder General, [the original] Wicker Man, Ken Russell’s Devils, and then two Ben Wheatley films: Kill List and A Field in England.

Kill List is one of my favorite movies of all time.

Kill List is incredible. It’s an astonishing piece of work. Those would be the top five for me.

Thank you so much for your time.

Thank you, man. I appreciate it.

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