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Anna Gunn & Linus Roache Can’t Invite In New Resonance To This Rote Uninvited Visitor Drama

Jan 22, 2023

The unexpected visitor: it’s a well-loved and much-explored horror trope that’s the jumping-off point for many a terrifying tale over the years. In Alison Star Locke’s new horror thriller “The Apology,” audiences get a new version of that story bolstered by two inspired and impactful performances. But it’s hard to stay invested in a narrative this rote and predictable. The plot’s predictability doesn’t make its events any less troubling, but that, too, is not enough to save the film from ultimately becoming a boring slog. Audiences may tire of cheap twists in bad movies, but this Shudder film certainly could have used one. 
READ MORE: ‘The Apology’ Trailer: Anna Gunn Confronts The Dark Truth Of Her Missing Daughter
“The Apology” centers on Darlene (Anna Gunn), a recovering alcoholic who is setting up her home for Christmas visitors the night before the holiday. It’s been twenty years since her daughter disappeared, an event that changed the course of her life—and a surprise visit from her estranged brother-in-law, Jack (Linus Roache), brings that event back to the forefront in a way she never expected. 
As expected, Gunn’s performance is incredible in this character-driven indie. It’s easily the meatiest role for the actress since her turn as Skyler White on AMC’s “Breaking Bad.” Gunn capably proved herself on Vince Gilligan‘s classic series, and “The Apology” is the kind of story that allows her to dig back into the same emotive toolbox she commandeered during that show’s run. The actress gives her all to Darlene—with flashes of Skyler White in her most emotional monologues—and she becomes the sole reason why it makes any sense to, after a while, to soldier on through the movie’s runtime.
Meanwhile, Roache’s performance plays with audience expectations. One may initially expect Jack to be a character well out of Roache’s range: a menacing antagonist with murderous intent. Instead, Roach turns in a performance dripping with self-hatred and remorse, and suicidal ideation. It’s a deeply unlikable role, not just for Jack’s transgressions but his desperate need to absolve them. Roach gives more to this role than his recent turn as the older version of the titular cop in “My Policeman,” but that’s partially by design. Whereas Roach restrains himself in that film, here he spills over with a toxic, uncontainable emotional life. The actor excellently accesses a waterfall of dangerous emotions as “The Apology” goes on, one of the few things that lends the film momentum.
Ultimately, though, skilled acting can only do so much for a lackluster script and an idea that simply just isn’t up to snuff. “The Apology” is an unfortunate victim of both of those issues. Writer-director Alison Locke deserves props for her direction and how she frames her subjects and builds tonal terror through lingering on their emotional pain, but unfortunately, the story she crafts just isn’t very interesting. There’s little doubt that its events are devastating, emotionally harrowing, and disturbing, but fans of this kind of fare will hope for one twist, any twist, to liven up the proceedings. One never arrives.
The film’s predictability doesn’t make what happened to Darlene’s daughter any less terrible. But when Jack’s involvement is obvious from the second he knocks on his sister-in-law’s door, the audience finds little to invest in. “The Apology” lays all too obvious breadcrumbs for its viewer to follow from the opening shots, showing the narrative’s cards from the game’s onset. Don’t expect this film to challenge, much less intrigue, its audience. Even the details of Jack’s crime fail to compel any kind of reaction from the viewer because they prove as predictable as the rest of the story.
Given its narrative limitations, one wonders if “The Apology” would work better on stage in a theatrical format. Imagine the same story, but on a bare stage, with a spare set and the same actors. The kind of exploration and emotional recall this story demands would come alive in such a space where a connection to an audience could exist, especially with the kind of reckoning each lead character undergoes. Whatever the case, “The Apology” ends up not worth its runtime despite providing an ample showcase for its two underappreciated leads. Marred by an unsurprising storyline, the film is less an effective horror thriller than a lackluster attempt at dramatizing real-life atrocities. [C]

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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