New To Streaming: The Survivalist (2015) - Reviewed

The Survivalist, a film so potent, it barely needs dialogue. 

After a nondescript end of modern civilization occurs, mankind is once again left to fend for itself in a cold and violent future defined by our inherent need to destroy and pillage. Food is nowhere to be found. Desperation becomes the rule of life.  And one lonesome man has endured for nearly a decade off the land he's harvested. In an instant, things change. 

Set deep in the forest, one man's will to survive is suddenly paired with a female duo of wanderers that assist him in keeping his homestead safe from the elements and would be intruders. Quickly we learn that nothing and no one is safe from the perils of this existence. Using a lush backdrop of stunning natural greens and browns, Stephen Fingleton's first full length film is a remarkable character study of pain and the human desire to live despite the odds stacked against us. Blanketed in a cold silence, The Survivalist is short on dialogue but heavy on tension that oozes feelings of torment and loss. Using nearly no score whatsoever, the film is an exercise in a stark reality that could actually happen. Perhaps that's the scariest thing about this feature. 

Like a visceral amalgam of Children of Men, The Road, and a less action packed version of Mad Max, this brooding tale of human survival drags its viewers through beautifully shot scenes of nature, the dregs of a hopeless existence, and a stunning narrative that pits man against the elements of his own sad fate. Through a slow paced series of artfully rendered scenes, the stage is set for one of the best pieces of futurist cinema in years. Resting on a narrative that moves in a careful but defined motion, The Survivalist shows the exact trials and tribulations one would go through when our society crumbles. Food is a commodity. Shelter is a luxury. Life is just a distant memory of its formative years. Like most other movies in this sub-genre, the desire to live is tainted by pain and bloodshed. 

Be very quiet. I hunting wabbits. Seriously. 

With the very little bit of talking that takes place, the characters are well rounded and defined. Each of the three main leads picks up certain pieces of the puzzle. Martin McCann plays the hardened male lead. Olwen Fouere is the matriarchal protector of life. And Mia Goth portrays the virginal Milja who steals the affections of the wayward Survivalist. With almost no lines to read, they all do their best to create believable characters. 

If you like movies that take place in a rustic setting with nature as a central character, The Survivalist steps up that game. With an initial limited release in 2015, this went unnoticed for far too long. Now it gets a streaming release which will hopefully get it some notice for its captivating subject matter and dynamic way of spinning the apocalypse drama into something with fresh ideas.