Review by Mark Merrell
The movie opens with a dark background and a flowing graph showing the population explosion. People in this future are left to fend for themselves and live completely off of the land. Food is scarce. As the scene opens, we see a man who has passed away being dragged through a forest on his back. The man pulling him is dressed in a large rain coat. The man digs a shallow grave, and puts the corpse in, covering him in dirt.
As the camera moves back, the man in the raincoat pulls his hood backwards. He is the, Survivalist (Martin McCann, The Fall, The Pacific, A Brilliant Young Mind). Living alone, he pursues the life of a pioneer. Growing vegetables, trapping prey, gathering wood for a stove to cook, and To stay warm.
You feel his loneliness, as he lives day to day without any human contact. That is, until one morning he awakens to find a mother and daughter standing in front of his cabin. The mom introduces herself as, Kathryn (Olwen Fouere, Space Truckers, This Must Be The Place, Hard Shoulder). She has long white hair, and seems, by the way she appears, that she has been through a lot of difficult circumstances. Her daughter, Mija (Mia Goth, Everest, A Cure For Wellness, Nymphomaniac: Vol. II) has a worn fore-lorn look of her own. The women are both hungry, and ask if they can have something to eat. They have jewelry to barter with, but it’s Mija that he’s interested in. He constantly holds a shotgun pointing on them. Finally, Kathryn and the Survivalist strike an agreement, and he lets them in his cabin, beginning their journey together.
Written and Directed by Stephen Fingleton, he pulls us into the world of the Survivalist. As first, we are just bystanders, or voyeurs of a sort, watching. As the movie rolls forward, we are pulled into every aspect, reminded at times of how venerable and frail life can be relying on yourself for everything as a survivor in the forest. We also see the social dynamics of the three perspectives; The mom, facing her age, the daughter, trying to create a life out of the mess she is in, and the Survivalist, strong but easily frightened, all contrasting characters.
This movie is fantastic, as it puts you front and center living off the land, with it’s few good times, and it’s many difficulties. The ensemble cast are all completely believable actors who take you skillfully by the hand, guiding you into another universe. The Survivalist is a lesson of what we hope will not come to pass, lead by the specter of things possibly yet to come.