In a kill-or-be-killed world where starvation is rife and strangers are always dangerous, "The Survivalist" lives off the grid, and by his wits. When a starving woman and her teenage daughter discover his forest refuge, his loneliness drives him to strike a bargain with them in return for bed and board. But as desire becomes stronger than necessity, the exchange becomes an uneasy, ongoing arrangement which threatens not only his carefully constructed world but also his life.
Spoilers follow ...
- The Survivalist review by NP
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You rated this film: 4
Not that it matters, but I’ve found it very hard to stick with a horror film longer than 20 minutes of late. A possible mixture of over-familiarity and the relentless ‘getting-to-know-you’ set-up of characters that are difficult to care about has seen to that. ‘The Survivalist’ is thankfully entirely different.
Martin McCann plays the unnamed titular character who is seen meticulously tending to the allotment surrounding his remote shack. The world’s economy has stopped, society has imploded, and this results in a back-to-basics culture for the few remaining. Occasionally, a glimpse of an ideal world is apparent – all the trappings of modern day culture gone, The Survivalist’s solitary nature is stripped back to the bare essentials. Memories of a brother long dead, a photograph of an unspecified girl kept for masturbationary purposes – all this is shattered by the arrival of Kathrine (Olwen Fouéré) and her daughter Mia (Mia Goth). These two, despite their good deeds, are rarely entirely trustworthy, but a relationship is built – initially on Mia being a bargaining chip in exchange for food, and ultimately on something approaching mutual friendship.
This is a bleak film, but not quite as grim as it may appear. There is no soundtrack other than the beginning and end theme. We hear the irresistible crackling of fires, the plaintive tweeting of the birds, and still feelings of fear, apprehension (but never jollity) are communicated to the viewer. Perhaps those directors who smother their films with mass orchestrated musical stings and bangs and whistles designed to instil fear should take note!
The Survivalist has been nominated for, and won, a variety of awards, for Mia Goth and Director/Writer Stephen Fingleton. Well deserved. The fall and further fall of these characters is compelling viewing.
Yet Another Lottery-Funded Patience-Tester
- The Survivalist review by Alphaville
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You rated this film: 1
A slow, deliberate, TV-like drama about a man living in a shack in the woods in a post-apocalyptic Ireland. One of those supposedly realistic character studies with no soundtrack music to highlight drama or emotion. There’s a spot of nudity for titillation and a few baddies turn up to excite then disappoint. There’s also some gardening.
Disparate scenes are patched together with no sense of continuity while a hand-held camera alienates the audience by staying too close to the ‘action’ to allow any spatial orientation. In a moment of awareness in the DVD extras, even the writer-director describes the film as ‘a pot boiler in a small space.’ The producer says: ‘The story’s the star.’ Not here, it isn’t. Compare Slow West, a similarly simple-concept film but one that oozes drama and excitement.