Post- apoc­a­lyp­tic The Good Life

SFX - - Reviews -

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.

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