The Survivalist Movie Review
Written by Charlotte Stear
Released by Bulldog Films
Written and directed by Stephen Fingleton
2016, 104 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 18th April, 2016
Martin McCann as Survivalist
Mia Goth as Milja
Olwen Fouere as Kathryn
Sometimes the most realistic movies are the scariest. New British movie The Survivalist presents a world where we have used up all our resources, society has broken down and we are left to fend for ourselves. It is so believable, it is terrifying.
The film follows a man surviving by any means possible, living alone in a shack in the woods making his own crops, completely secluded. His world dramatically changes when a mother and daughter find his home and try to become a part of it. He must decide whether they can be trusted and what this means even if they can.
The Survivalist is a minimalist movie that takes its time and doesn’t spoon-feed the audience information. Most apocalyptic movies have a big explanation as to what brought it all about or base their whole premise on that very thing, but here the end of civilisation is briefly explained via the opening credits of the film and that’s it, our survivalist’s mission starts. The movie is the aftermath, we know nothing about our protagonist’s past or where he is and it’s a refreshing way to tell this kind of story, learning more as we go.
It’s a really striking film in a lot of different ways. For one, it’s beautifully shot; there isn’t much to see in the sense that there’s primarily one location, but director Stephen Fingleton uses unique camera angles to keep up intrigue and suspense and uses the backdrop of the woods to its full potential. A film that has very few characters and one location could get very dull, very quickly but that never happens here.
With very little dialogue in the whole movie the actors have a lot to carry, but their performances are outstanding, especially Martin McCann who plays the hermit and Mia Goth, the young daughter. A lot is said between the two without words and their strange situation is perfectly portrayed, sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes affectionate.
What makes this film such a success is how simple it is. It doesn’t rely on a soundtrack to add suspense, in fact the lack of any noise is what keeps you on your toes. It heightens the paranoia of our lead character and makes situations more tense. As mentioned, there is very little dialogue so noises like the creaking of the floorboards as he stands on guard against intruders in his home and the howling of the wind outside become their own characters, bringing the film to life. Not using haunting music to trick an audience into feeling a particular way is a bold but brilliant move, it makes this film stand out and perfectly matches the rest of the film’s aesthetic.
It’s also a film to get you thinking, the way it ends will give you a lot to muse on after it finishes and could very well lead you to take up an interest in a bit of gardening, you know... just in case.
It goes without saying that director Fingleton is someone to watch out for, The Survivalist is his first feature film so it’s exciting to think where he will go next. If you’re looking for a gruelling movie that will give you something a little different then The Survivalist is something you definitely should be watching.