The Apology (2022) Movie Review – A woeful home invasion film

A woeful home invasion film

Shudder’s new home invasion/murder mystery is drab. There are no two ways about it. When the casting and plot brief were announced, it promised a taut thriller with minimal exposition and optimal drama. Single-location settings are powerful tools that when wielded properly, can benefit in more than one way. But for Alison Locke – who writes and directs – it becomes a burden.

The lack of energy in the first half, and motivation in the second, never allows us to rationalize her story, despite a decent turn by both Anna Gunn and Linus Roache. The Apology becomes a prisoner to its own creative choices and struggles to break free from the shackles.

The plot is thin on details but we do get an adequate amount of information in the beginning. Darlene (Gunn) lost her young girl, Sally, about two decades ago. She is yet to be found but Darlene has not lost hope. At least that is how she convinces herself to stay sober and continue a solitary existence. Gretchen, her next-door neighbour in the wild surroundings, keeps her company, and in that horrible thundersnow before Christmas, leaves her at night. However, Darlene’s night is not over yet. Just as she is about to break her sobriety, a familiar face from all those years comes knocking at her door: Jack, her ex-brother-in-law.

That is where the real movie starts, as Jack’s “confession” begins to unfurl. The Apology loses its central mystery and charm quite early on though. Not even half the way in, we learn the truth about Sally and the lack of enthusiasm to churn out tension from the ensuing chaos makes watching the revelation a dull affair.

Locke looks woefully out of ideas as to how she could utilize the setting and emotions with her actors. The most troublesome aspect of it all was the blocking. That is all one could think of in the moment; just how awkward and lacklustre the responses were and how loose Locke’s hold on her storytelling became as the minutes ticked down.

There were hardly any close-ups or stills of Gunn’s face when Jack spilt the beans on that day. The background score did not help either and all the elements that make such stories delightful to follow till the end, are never quite triggered. Emotionless is not something that would be fair for the actors as they try their best. But Locke’s inability to capture that shock, horror and utter despair is what makes the entire first half unenjoyable. Not to say that the second was drastically better,  but it was an improvement as Darlene’s disposition changed. We saw more energy and urgency when Jack introduces a gun in the midst.

Locke is able to extract some joy from those moments of tension but even then, it leads to nowhere. Although the execution is the problem here, the conception too seems very fragile. When you look back at it, there is not a lot for Locke to go on about for 90 minutes. With just two characters and no external interferences, it was always going to be how engaged the viewer could be with the history of Darlene and Jack. And for some moments, it seemed that would take the story forward. But the abruptness with which it all disintegrated in The Apology is unfortunate.

On many occasions, the premise has some weight. There is an opportunity to carve something special out of them but in The Apology’s case, that cannot be said. It is the premise where all of its problems begin and there is so much the actors can do on their own. Gunn goes full “Walter White” in the latter half as the night crescendos and her character is faced with the tumultuous task to activate a vengeful streak in her. She emotes Darlene’s apathy, heartbreak, and helplessness well. Gunn’s very natural approach allows us to see Darlene fit into that situation and gradually work her way out. But the thought process is too shallow for it to make an impact.

The Apology is a terrible film with minimal guile and subtlety. The lack of props for the plot makes the experience of watching it unsavoury and unlike most films that Shudder has had to offer. The Geeko meter is not kind to this underwhelming thriller film, even if it can be called so.


Read More: The Apology Ending Explained

  • Verdict - 4/10

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