29th Feb2016

‘The Survivalist’ VOD Review

by Richard Axtell

Stars: Mia Goth, Martin McCann, Andrew Simpson, Olwen Fouere, Kieri Kennedy, Douglas Russell, Ryan McParland, Barry Ward, Hussina Raja, Michael Og Lane | Written and Directed by Stephen Fingleton


In a kill-or-be-killed world where starvation is rife and strangers are always dangerous, The Survivalist lives off the grid, and by his wits. When a starving woman and her teenage daughter discover his forest refuge, his loneliness drives him to overcome his suspicion and strike a bargain with them in return for bed and board. But as desire becomes stronger than necessity, the exchange becomes an uneasy, ongoing arrangement which threatens not only his carefully constructed world but also his life.

If I had to live alone in a forest, I probably wouldn’t last long enough to tweet for help. It would be a #disaster. The Survivalist, however, seems to have got surviving down (although with a name like that, who is surprised?). The film begins by showing him going about his life, and does that for a while (probably about the first twenty minutes). Some might consider this a slow start, but I can’t say I ever felt that way. The Survivalist as a whole doesn’t rush things. It takes time to show you the world as it is now, a continuing battle for survival, where every wrong choice could end in death.

I was surprised (in a good way) by the way The Survivalist managed to draw me in and really make me feel for the characters in the story, without telling me all that much (the main character’s name, for example, is never disclosed). The reason for the end of the world is never explained in detail, but that doesn’t matter. In fact, that is probably The Survivalist’s biggest strength: like the resources that the characters are surviving on, not a second in the film feels wasted or thrown in to pad out the story. It’s a well-made film which delivers exactly what it says on the tin.

For people who want to know what is going on, there are hints here and there, though nothing is ever confirmed. This is not a story about how the world went to hell; it’s a story about how people are dealing with it. Not only is this film well acted, but the cinematography also shines through and gives The Survivalist a desolate, suspicious, but also beautiful feel. If I were to compare this film to another, it would say it’s not unlike The Road – only with more life and colour to it.

For viewers who like the idea of surviving in a post apocalyptic world, The Survivalist is definitely one to watch.

**** 4/5

The Survivalist is available to watch now on We Are Colony


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