Post- apocalyptic The Good Life
released 12 February 18 | 103 minutes
Director Stephen Fingleton
Cast Martin McCann, Mia Goth, Olwen Fouéré, Andrew Simpson
A largely plotless, humourless, low- budget, unrelentingly grim post- apocalyptic flick filmed in a forest. Not sounding promising, is it? Probably another of those endless zombie movies that look like a bunch of mates playing The Walking Dead down the woods.
But no. The Survivalist may be minimalist but it also proves that you can take any tired old genre and give it new energy if you approach it with intelligence, style and commitment. Be warned, though. This Northern Irish indie is an arthouse post- apocalypse: think The Road or Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker. Little happens for a lot of the time; dialogue is sparse; the drama is largely channelled through nuance.
In an indeterminate future where the world population has plummeted after running out of food due to oil petering out, a never- named survivalist ekes out an existence in the backwoods, growing his own food and recycling looters as manure. Paranoid and suspicious, he’s wary when a mother and daughter arrive at his hut offering sex in exchange for food, but eventually his loins overcome his sense. It’s a decision he may regret....
Edgy, nervy and told primarily through images and the subtle expressions of a damned fine cast, The Survivalist has surprisingly lush cinematography and lighting which at first seems at odds with its bleak subject matter, but makes a refreshing change from the perceived wisdom that “gritty” post- apocalypses need to be bleached out. The brutality and animalistic, untitillating sex have more impact in such a visually poetic setting.
The Survivalist is not an easy watch, perhaps a little bit too one- note, and begins to lose coherence and integrity as it becomes more plot- led in an attempt to create a climax. But make no mistake, director Stephen Fingleton is a talent to keep your eye on. Dave Golder
Stephen Fingleton has been nominated for a Bafta for The Survivalist, in the Outstanding Debut category.
Ken blatantly ignored the paintball rules.