The Survivalist stars Martin McCann as a man who’s lived alone in the woods for the past ten years and has become proficiently self-sufficient, growing vegetables like a pro on his personal farm.
The economy has gone to hell in a handcart, yet the film was vague in initially defining whether or not we’d reached some sort of post-apocalyptic dystopian future, or whether the man was just getting ahead of the curve. As to the outcome, I’ll leave you to discover that, but in any event, the Survivalist’s abode is going to attract unwelcome intrusion from time to time, and two examples of this eventually come along in the form of Kathryn (Olwen Fouere) and her daughter Milja (Mia Goth – Nymphomaniac Vol I. & Vol II.), looking for shelter and food.
Having lived alone for such a long time, he’s understandably reticent to let anyone into his life, so you can understand why he grips his shotgun at every waking moment. Given that the film opened with him burying the body of a dead man, you know he won’t think twice about what to do if anyone crosses him, although at first I thought he was killing humans for food. But then, in that situation, why not, given that there’s a chance that the dead might be solicitors, so it would be a blessing on the world if that is the case.
It’s so refreshing to see a modern film made as an 18-certificate, as there are so few these days, but while it doesn’t have a great deal of graphic gore, there’s certainly moments that earn that certificate. I also realised that I have never seen a film starring Martin McCann before. I shall have to remedy that ASAP. I certainly want to see his latest, My Name is Emily. Mia Goth also makes for superb support, and writer/director Stephen Fingleton manages brilliantly to ramp up the tension, especially in the second half, so it’s one of those few films that gets better the more it goes on.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and you’d be surprised if it was not a top-notch transfer for a brand new film, and for a low-budget film, it makes the most of its dense forest setting. Yes, it could just have been filmed over a small amount of land to save money, but go with the story and let the tension grip you. I watched this pin-sharp transfer on a Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV.
The sound is in DTS HD 5.1 and there are zero issues with the audio. The only reason I’ve rated it 7 is because what’s here is functional – there’s little dialogue and no music for its duration, but that is all intentional, to rack up the suspense.
The extras ae as follows:
- The Making of The Survivalist (20:52): Chat from the cast and crew mixed in with clips, with the director giving his nspiration for the movie following a documentary he saw called Collapse. I don’t to describe this too much, as it’ll spoil what’s within the movie. There’s also a clip of writer/director Stephen Fingleton’s short film Magpie.
- Audio description: Does exactly what it says on the tin.
- Short films: Three are included on this disc:
- Awaydays (11:44) – written by Stephen Fingleton and directed by Michael Lennox, this is a sort-of prequel to The Survivalist with a man (Stuart Graham) and his two sons (Corey McKinley and Marcus O’Kane) preparing for such an environment.
- Insulin (11:20) – a thriller set within the same environment, directed by Ryan Tohill and Andy Tohill, again written by Stephen Fingleton, about a store dispensing prescription drugs, run by Barry Ward and Tara Lynne O’Neill.
- Magpie (16:00) – a pilot for The Survivalist, again starring Martin McCann and Mia Goth, but with Olivia Williams in the role of the mother. All three shorts are gripping enough, but this last one is exceptional in its editing.
There are subtitles in English only and the menu features a segment of the closing piece, A Song for Milja by Plus (Minus&Plus), which I’d have linked here but I can’t find it online.
Alas, like our titular lead, the chapters are also on meagre rations with just 12 across the 104-minute running time.
Running time: 104 minutes
Studio: Bulldog Films
Released: April 18th 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Stephen Fingleton
Producers: David Gilbery, Wayne Marc Godfrey and Robert Jones
Screenplay: Stephen Fingleton
The Survivalist: Martin McCann
Milja: Mia Goth
Kathryn: Olwen Fouere
Gaunt Man: Andrew Simpson
Forager: Barry Ward
The woman in the photograph: Kieri Kennedy
The Snatcher: Douglas Russell
Leader of the Lost Boys: Ryan McParland
Raider: Michael Og Lane
Watchman: Ciaran Flynn
Watchwoman: Hussina Raja
Settlement Child: Dexter Louca Godfrey
Settler Woman: Caitlin Deeds
Raider: Aran Downey
Raider: Jeremy Martin
Raider: Logan Kerr
Raider: Sean Doupe
Raider: Aaron Goldring
Raider: Matthew Henry
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.