Monday, 8 February 2016

On 8.2.16 by KieronMoore in , ,    No comments

It’s the apocalypse. Everyone’s dead. You know the drill. The eponymous Survivalist (McCann) lives alone in a hut in the forest. He grows crops, he carries a shotgun, and at one point he has a wank into a plant pot. And then, one day, Kathryn (Fouere) and her daughter Milja (Goth) show up at his door, desperate for food. He lets them stay in exchange for sex with Milja. Somehow, despite his constant aggression and his habit of pointing guns at her, Milja falls for him. And it all gets bleaker from there.

That’s basically the concept of writer/director Stephen Fingleton’s début feature, a harsh survival thriller with minimal characters and action. In fact, it has minimal everything – the cinematography and sound design are stripped-down, while whole scenes go by with hardly any dialogue. All of this results in a movie as miserable and slow as the life of its characters, at times feeling like a short film being played at the wrong speed – indeed, this plot done as a short could be well worth watching.

What should, in theory, be The Survivalist’s strength is the relationships between the characters – with three leads in a confined environment, good performances are essential. And yet they often repel us, with little compassion or depth on show; McCann’s titular Survivalist is cold and nasty at the beginning and continues to act as such throughout the film, leaving his final act of kindness unconvincing. The saving grace is Mia Goth’s performance as Milja, the most interesting by far of the three characters; Goth lends nuance to the girl’s confusion between loyalty to her mother and affection for the Survivalist (despite his brutality and ridiculous hair).


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