Wednesday, 5 August 2020

The Survivalist

The Survivalist is a Stephen Fingleton creation starring Martin McCann, Mia Goth and Olwen Fouéré which appears to be set in Ireland (certainly filmed there, apparently) and is set in some future time where humans have to live off the land and keep away from trouble to stay alive.

McCann plays a young man who does just this, off-grid (if there is one) in a wood/forest in a wooden cabin, minding his own business, growing enough in the soil to feed himself with various traps set up around his territory to deter interference from outsiders or even to do away with them if need be. Starvation seems to be the real killer as we discover when a teenage girl and her mother turn up on the scrounge. They don't have anything attractive enough to trade except for the bedroom favours of the daughter. And so the contract is done.

It's a lonely existence in which nobody trusts anyone and the interesting suspense which this film brings out is within that very issue. As the three of them watch their backs, look for opportunities to get the upper hand, or at least not be disadvantaged by the others and stress runs high. We think that trust between the mother and daughter is a given, but as the story develops, maybe this is not so - especially as it turns out that she is not well.

Then there are gangs of 'baddies' who appear to be roving the countryside looking for opportunities to steal and kill anything or anyone who gets in their way, again presumably to fend off their own starvation. There are tense scenes around that as our three main characters try to keep out of their way and survive themselves.

You can't help thinking that a bond develops between our main characters, but just when we think it's all getting nice and cosy events unfurl which shake things back towards the direction of mistrust and isolation. Everyone for themselves.

The film is an earthy low-budget affair with pockets of violence, nudity and strange eroticism. It's very slow in places but never anything less than thrilling and suspenseful. The whole concept of what's going on is a strange mix between the 1970's TV show Survivors, Mad Max, Waterworld or even Jane Campion's 1993 telling of The Piano, in terms of claustrophobia and setting. There's often minutes-on-end of no speaking as the audience consumes the anxiety through the silence, listening for danger - from within or out.

Nothing is ever said about how they got there, what went on in the world to dictate this social situation except for a strange graphic during the opening titles about demise of population and the rise of oil production - so make your own mind up! It's a gripping watch and recommended here. The photography is taut and the three main leads perform their parts very well, often having to deal with some of the surviving life-problems which whatever this world is, have not gone away. Doing the rounds on Film4 in the UK just now or the DVD on AmazonUK.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 (a year late)!

I'm always keen to look at the latest technology, especially in the smartphone world, but more often than not these days, I'm priced...