Described by some as a “post-apocalyptic thriller” and “future cult classic”, The Survivalist offers up a tense and eye-opening lesson about human emotion, animal instincts, treachery and our innate desire to survive.
The film follows lone survivalist (Martin McCann) struggling to make ends meet in a post-apocalyptic world that has succumbed to starvation. He hides out in a cabin in the depths of the countryside, abiding by careful routines and always on alert. One day this lonely routine is shattered when a starving mother (Olwen Fouere) and her daughter (Mia Goth) approach him, begging for a share of his crops. A hazardous relationship begins to form between them as they attempt to co-exist in the wilderness – but it is not long before their quiet and uneasy existence is violently interrupted by more hostile guests.
Minimalist, exquisitely shot, but gruesomely candid throughout, BAFTA-nominated director Stephen Fingleton’s debut feature will have viewers recoiling in revulsion at times. Using highly effective sound design and graphic visuals, this movie makes a huge cinematic impression, which enhances the horror-movie moments. The Survivalist shocks and fascinates from start to finish. With skilfully subtle acting and understated dialogue, McCann, Goth and Fouere prove equally compelling on screen.
The film’s wild and lush countryside setting serves as a wonderfully stark contrast to the dark and gritty story that is played out, and the ongoing sense of isolation it maintains feels very real. Masterfully shot and framed, the film’s overriding atmosphere of paranoia and mistrust is enhanced by cinematographer Damien Elliot’s clever imagery and perfect timing. Unfortunately, due to a distinct lack of detail about the individual histories of the characters, their true intentions and feelings are occasionally left unclear. However, this lack of information does not lessen the depth of their roles and may even serve to make their behaviour more intriguing at times.
Featuring frequent bouts of brutal violence, sexual and explicit scenes (including one particularly harrowing scene with an attempted abortion), The Survivalist may not be to everyone’s taste, but is genuinely thought-provoking and likely to leave you reeling afterwards.
The Survivalist is released nationwide on 12th February 2016.
Watch the trailer for The Survivalist here: