Movie Review: THE SURVIVALIST (2017)

Being a fan of films pertaining to surviving in the wild, I was very intrigued to check this film out. Upon closer inspection, I became even more interested once I found that this was an apocalyptic movie containing absolutely no zombies (not the biggest modern zombie fan). With that being said, THE SURVIVALIST caught my attention with those aspects, along with its high ratings. I was eager to jump right in and see for myself.

Written and directed by Stephen Fingleton, THE SURVIVALIST shows its audience a very dismal post apocalyptic setting. With a bleak outlook on existence, with each day bleeding into the next, we see our protagonist, known only as the survivalist (Martin McCann) keeping himself alive on a small farm in the woods. His years of solitude suddenly fracture upon the arrival of a woman and her mother (Mia Goth and Olwen Fouere) seeking shelter and nourishment. Reluctant at first, the survivalist drops his guard and allows them to stay, as eventual suspicions of survival begin to rise while food sources decline.

As a whole, this film produces the right tone, atmosphere, and approach for a survival-themed movie. It’s incredibly slow pace drags out the feeling of hopelessness, granting the more dramatic scenes with higher tension. The minimal dialogue shrouded in mostly silence from the lack of score really strikes a melancholic chord in regards to the ambiance. The main theme within THE SURVIVALIST proceeds to be the fragility of life and the natural, primal instincts inside all human beings to stay alive at all costs. I did find the reasoning behind the downfall of society vague and not super believable, but easily overlooked it in comparison to everything else.

The most captivating element of THE SURVIVALIST was the acting – every actor was impressive, pulling off very tough performances. Due to minimal dialogue, each actor had to rely mostly on body language and emotions, and they did so beautifully. All feelings were produced through intense eye contact and the constant notion of restless thoughts. Martin McCann’s portrayal of the main character really knocked it out of the park with his ability to appear cold, yet caring, and protective yet aloof. I felt each role synched well with the actor chosen to play their part.

If you’re a fan of the survivalist genre and want a film that flows almost naturally with a sullen mood, then THE SURVIVALIST is right up your alley. I highly recommend checking it out and plunging head first into its thought-provoking premise and alluringly gloomy world that Fingleton’s created.

THE SURVIVALIST will open in select theaters and be available on VOD beginning May 19th

Abigail Braman
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