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Tuesday, December 13, 2022

‘The Apology’ Review – A True Gift for Fans of Dark Christmas Stories

Be it sadness or happiness, Christmas tends to bring out intense emotions. What’s often seen as a joyous time for some people can be the loneliest day of the year for others. In the movie The Apology, Darlene Hagen hasn’t had a happy Christmas since she experienced every parent’s worst nightmare. This one particular holiday is already hard enough to get through, but now this heartbroken mother is paid an unexpected visit from a ghost of Christmas past.

Alison Locke’s first long feature lives on the less celebrated side of Christmas storytelling. As cheerless and severe as The Apology is, though, it also taps into that sort of unexplained magic often found in holiday movies. Some kind of unnatural force has to be at work when watching Anna Gunn’s character receive the most complicated Christmas gift imaginable. But her unique present comes with strings attached; it’s been delivered with a dark confession.

After her best friend and neighbor Gretchen (Janeane Garofalo, Mercy Black) helps her with some last-minute baking, Darlene is left alone on Christmas Eve. She’s set to retire for the evening when a knock at the door reveals her sister’s ex-husband and her former brother-in-law, Jack (Linus Roache, Mandy), standing on the other side. The two haven’t seen each other in years, so Jack’s appearance is as surprising as it is suspicious. The reunion is at first pleasant, especially when Darlene and Jack reminisce about happier times. The night then takes a turn as Jack unboxes a harsh and disturbing truth. 

Remembering the movie’s title, it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out Jack’s motivation for visiting on this specific day. How it plays out, however, is where The Apology starts to act more like a genre flick. The first act is immersed in a tense exchange of words, with Roache taking charge as his character explains his misdeeds in great detail. Darlene, on the other hand, is resigned to listening while going through all the given emotions of someone in her position. Gunn stews in Darlene’s feelings here, only to then erupt like a volcano in the following acts.

For the most part, The Apology is a talking thriller. Eventually the verbal back-and-forth transitions into desperate action between two people who have nothing left to lose. Admittedly the movie is at its best when Darlene and Jack are sparring with their words, giving and taking from each other in order to feel some semblance of relief. Yet the violence is neither gratuitous nor unnecessary; there’s always a good reason for their grappling and struggling. Locke is then sure to put the lid back on this boiling pot so the tension can build up again, namely through Darlene’s visible anticipation and Jack’s eternal spring of admissions. So while the desire for overt conflict doesn’t go unanswered, the movie always ensures the bodily fighting serves a purpose.

What makes this twisted home-invasion story more successful than others is how Jack is written. Without a doubt, he’s done terrible things. He’s ruined lives. Even so, he’s not depicted as an outright or cartoonish villain. A less attentive storyteller would have made Jack a more transparent bad guy. Locke thankfully fleshes out both of the movie’s main characters so they feel more like complicated equals than mere manifestations of good and evil. Jack isn’t designed like any given foe whose most menacing attribute is his ability to do harm. On the contrary, Jack scares you because he can rationalize what he’s done. Even worse, he minimizes his actions to avoid taking responsibility. Locke surely knows how to pen a frighteningly realistic antagonist.

The Apology is both an excellent debut and a big win for indie genre movies. The bracing story is well told and full of surprises, the performances are all around impressive, and the writing is impactful. Alison Locke drops one of the most agonizing Christmas stories in recent years, but also includes a glimmer of hope. The magic of the holidays still manages to come out, even in a thriller as bleak as The Apology.

The Apology streams on Shudder starting on December 16.

apology

The post ‘The Apology’ Review – A True Gift for Fans of Dark Christmas Stories appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3743406/the-apology-review-a-true-gift-for-fans-of-dark-christmas-stories/

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