Apprentice to Murder

1988

Drama / Horror / Mystery / Thriller

4
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 30%
IMDb Rating 4.8 10 335

Synopsis


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August 30, 2018 at 07:07 PM

Cast

720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
774.59 MB
1280*694
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 37 min
P/S 4 / 11
1.47 GB
1920*1040
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 37 min
P/S 2 / 11

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by pascal-francaix 10 / 10

Underrated

A very fine movie, totally underrated. Despite a bad box for the DVD edition, this is NOT a "horror flick", but a greatly interesting and subtle approach of a strange and complex relationship between an influenced young man (Lowe) and a disturbed pow-wow-preacher, tortured by his secret fears -- and desires... Homosexual implications, wonderful camera work, and great musical score by Charles Gross. There is a magic in this movie, which places it somewhere between "The Night of the hunter" and "The Reflecting skin". Felicitations to R.L. Thomas. Oh !... and Donald Sutherland is memorable !... His performance is suave, well balanced, and constantly precise.

Reviewed by skallisjr 7 / 10

Strange, but Based on Fact

This film was based loosely on a bizarre murder investigation and subsequent trial in Pennsylvania. At the time, in the 1920s, backwoods Pennsylvania had folk-medicine healers called Pow-Wows, and the film involves one. These healers relied on a book, "Long Lost Friend," written by a George Hohmann, that was full of prayers and folk remedies based on a form of sympathetic magic, that were supposed to cure ailments and the like.

The Sutherland character is a Pow-Wow, and a youngster, played by Lucas Haas, becomes his apprentice. A series of bad events takes place in the community, and the Pow-Wow suspects a neighboring farmer, culminating in the murder.

Significant Spoiler: The film is ambivalent on the nature of the Pow-Wow's power, and leads the viewer in one direction, and then suddenly reverses itself. This weakness could have been sidestepped easily. It would have been a better film if it had.

Reviewed by Coventry 5 / 10

Pow-Wow … Not Too "Wow-Awesome"

This is quite weird… "Apprentice to Murder" combines three major elements that I always deliberately seek for in horror/cult movies, but rarely ever find together. And yet, in spite of featuring this rather unique potpourri, the film sadly left me Siberian cold. For starters (1) the film is obscure and incredibly hard to find. Usually there's a good reason for this, but personally I still hope to stumble upon some genuine undiscovered gems from time to time. Then (2) the story is based, or at least loosely inspired, by true events. More than often, facts are far more astounding than fiction could ever be. And finally but foremost (3), "Apprentice to Murder" takes place in the 1920's and I personally think this is the most suitable time to narrate a tale of the macabre. The ambiance that comes with this decade is like automatically melancholic and downbeat. The people were poor, vulnerable to all sort of illnesses and petrified of God. Why there aren't any more horror movies timed in the 1920's is completely beyond me.

"Apprentice to Murder" has all this, except that… well … the story, inspired by true events as they supposedly took place in Pennsylvania in 1927, honestly isn't worth telling. It's fairly dull and commonplace. Definitely not something to consider as thought-provoking or recognize as one of the darkest pages in recent history. Donald Sutherland, who couldn't look less interested in starring in this film, depicts a so- called Powwow Doctor practicing in a rural Pennsylvanian county, a few days of traveling away from Philadelphia. After his "cures" the father of a young illiterate adolescent with a drawing talent, he takes the boy under his wing as an apprentice. Dr. Reese teaches Billy to read and write and also gradually becomes convinced that he can also become a blessed healer, much against the will of Billy's girlfriend Alice. But Dr. Reese and especially his methods are unorthodox and often abased as witchery by the superstitious and deeply religious communion. When some of his cases don't end well, Billy is dragged along in a downwards spiral of accusations, curses and punishments.

Director R.L. Thomas obviously treasured the best of intentions, but sadly doesn't manage to make full use of the contemporary folklore mysticism and small-town paranoia. For way too long, the screenplay exclusively focuses on the bonding sessions between the Dr. and his young acolyte. I swear, the undertones even get homosexual at certain moments, whereas the really interesting aspects of the story remain untouched. The actually disturbing ordeal our Powwow has to face (a creepy local hermit who may or not be the Devil himself) is incomprehensibly pushed to the background, like it's some kind of insignificant sub plot. The filming locations and set pieces are terrific, but apparently R.L Thomas and his crew had to travel to the beautiful region of Hordaland in Norway in order to recreate the rural Pennsylvania of 1927. "Apprentice to Murder" definitely remains a curious 80's feature, well worth checking out if you cherish cheap but ambitious cult cinema, but overall it's a missed opportunity.

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