Since filmmaking became accessible to more people with changing technology, smaller budget films have really found their place in the world, more so than ever before. This is especially true for genre films, horror and thriller films in particular. And in recent years, post-apocalyptic films have become an audience favorite as well. A new film, The Survivalist, joins the ranks while keeping things a little different.
In an undetermined future, after something has killed off much of the population, the world has turned into a primal, every man for himself environment where starvation prevails and strangers are always dangerous. The Survivalist has been living on his own off the grid for many years, so when a hungry wandering woman and her teenage daughter stumble upon his remote refuge, they strike a deal to survive together that feeds their hunger as well as their loneliness. But as their relationships develop and they encounter more people, it threatens all their existences and futures.
The Survivalist is a beautifully constructed thriller. Writer/director Stephen Fingleton manages somehow to make the great outdoors seem claustrophobic and crazy scary, even in broad daylight. Martin McCann is brilliant as the lone wolf man known only as ‘The Survivalist’ in the credits. He conveys most of his feelings while alone and in the company of others strictly with facial expressions but there are never moments when you don’t know what he is thinking. The same high caliber acting also comes from co-stars Olwen Fouere and Mia Goth. Both women are strong but scared and willing to do whatever it takes to survive even if it means seeming to be helpless. The relationships between the man and the two women is wonderfully written, subtle and engaging. You never really know where their relationship is going to take them and there are some very surprising moments as the story progresses. On top of this subtle and smart writing is gorgeous cinematography that highlights the beauty of the wilderness while still keeping things feeling dangerous and unpredictable. The Survivalist is highly recommended, especially if you are craving something different from the norm.