THE SUR­VIVAL­IST

The World With­out Us

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased 18 April 2016 | 18 | Blu- ray/ DVD

Di­rec­tor Stephen Fin­gle­ton

Cast Martin McCann, Mia Goth,

Ol­wen Fouere, An­drew Simp­son

Stephen Fin­gle­ton’s de­but fea­ture opens with a sim­ple vis­ual: a red line and a blue line chart­ing the rise and dra­matic fall of hu­man civil­i­sa­tion af­ter the oil runs out. It’s the only hint of world- build­ing in this pared back and un­flinch­ingly bru­tal postapoc­a­lypse thriller.

Martin McCann plays the name­less sur­vival­ist – a bearded, mul­leted loner liv­ing a quiet life in a ru­ral shack. He grows his own crops and kills those who are fool­ish enough to cross his path. An en­counter with Kathryn ( Ol­wen Fouere) and her daugh­ter Milja ( Mia Goth), how­ever, leads to an un­easy al­liance based on sex and work for food. As the three live to­gether, their shift­ing al­le­giances threaten to de­stroy ev­ery­thing.

With no in­ci­den­tal mu­sic and only sparse di­a­logue ( it’s a full 17 min­utes be­fore a word is spo­ken), The Sur­vival­ist re­lies en­tirely on its vi­su­als and the bril­liant, un­set­tling per­for­mances of the cen­tral trio. All three char­ac­ters shift be­tween vic­tim and vil­lain at var­i­ous points and the film thrums with the ever- present threat of vi­o­lence. Goth, in par­tic­u­lar, is su­perb – dead- eyed and de­ter­mined, but with a flicker of em­pa­thy as her bond with McCann be­gins to grow into some­thing ap­par­ently sin­cere.

Al­though the film sticks to just a hand­ful of lo­ca­tions – the cabin and the woods, mostly – Fin­gle­ton demon­strates a real vis­ual flair. An el­e­gant crane shot that moves be­tween McCann and a would- be as­sas­sin lurk­ing in the long grass is fan­tas­ti­cally tense, and there’s a hint of Ter­rence Mal­ick in his de­pic­tion of a world thriv­ing in hu­man­ity’s ab­sence. Com­bined with a sound­track that’s com­posed al­most en­tirely of back­ground noise – wind rat­tling the trees, bird song, trick­ling wa­ter – it makes for an im­pres­sively im­mer­sive ( if ex­ceed­ingly dour) ex­pe­ri­ence. There’s no rac­ing around in souped- up cars in this fu­ture, just the end­less daily scrab­ble to sur­vive.

Ex­tras A Mak­ing Of ( 43 min­utes). Will Salmon

To help se­cure fund­ing for the film, Fin­gle­ton made a 16- minute pre­quel short called Mag­pie: http:// bit. ly/ surv­mag.

And still the Ewok slaugh­ter con­tin­ued.

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