MOVIE REVIEW: The Survivalist

The Survivalist
Director: Stephen Fingleton
Writer: Stephen Fingleton
Stars: Mia Goth, Martin McCann, Andrew Simpson

A lone man is living deep in the woods, World society has broken down around him, and he lives day-to-day trying to grow enough food to keep him going.  When a Mother and Daughter show up he allows them to stay are share his food for the company of the Daughter at night.  The Mother and Daughter have their own plans.

Sometimes you see posters that say some wild stuff for movies, you watch the film and then you go back and read the posters again, and wonder what the hell was going on with that outlet for lending such an outrageous quote for the promotion of the film.  There were some hefty quotes on the poster for The Survivalist, and while doing this job I’ve become a little bit more cynical, so I didn’t believe them.  I was wrong for the first time in a while.  It’s not perfect, it’s not going to be for everyone, but as far as it goes on Post Apocalyptic adventures it rates in the top half of the table for me.  It doesn’t have the budget to be as stupidly wild as Mad Max, but the tension starts right from the first second and keeps you on that edge of the seat until the final scene.

Martin McCann plays The Survivalist, the unnamed character who is planting his crops and keeping the vigilant eye over the small piece of land that he calls his.  It’s a lonely life and if something doesn’t have use then it’s used to keep his small hut warm.  When Kathryn and Milja show up he keeps them under the barrel of the gun, locking Mother Kathryn up at night so that he can sleep with Milja.  McCann is brilliant here, confused him a little with the lad who played Loki in the Marvel movies, but you’ll get that too.  His performance is so subtle and true to the reality of the film that you fall straight into the world.  There is a little moment at the start which explains what is going on with society and while this is fiction it’s probably the more likely apocalypse that we as humanity will face.  The life and the techniques that The Survivalist uses to continue his life seem to be taken out of a book that my Dad had in our house while growing up, the SAS survival handbook, which gives the film that clearer reality that these kind of films tend to lack.

Kathryn and Milja are both played in a very realistic manner too, Olwen Fouere as Kathryn has this creepy nature about her that frightens you, you never know what to expect out of her next.  Mia Goth gives the outstanding performance of the film as Milja, quiet and calm, you know that this character is just trying to do whatever it is to cope with the world that she faces.  The film rests soundly on the shoulders of these three actors, there are other performers in the film, but that is where the film falls down.  We don’t know what is going on, what social standing is in place, it’s these three people versus everyone else.  The invaders and others who interact with these three have more sinister notions in place and other than destruction it’s unclear what their motives are.

I’ll be honest and tell you that I’m not normally a fan of the apocalyptic movies that come out, I didn’t like Fury Road last year, didn’t hate it, but just didn’t feel the way about it that my friends did.  There is some more peacefully unique about The Survivalist though.  Where the other end of our world movies show the bigger scale of the problem, this film just boils down to one man, two women, some gardening, and trying to survive.  What made me love the film is the same thing that made me see the faults in it too, and I love feeling that confused way about films.  I love feeling something for films, good or bad, because it means that emotions have been stirred either way.  There is nothing worse than coming out of a film and feeling nothing, not caring about the characters, not wondering what happened to those people after the movie.  If you are going to spend you cash on a film then you have an investment, and here in The Survivalist you at least get a return with the tension, and the finale that gives you that spark that it knows you want, but makes you wait until the final moments.

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