In a kill-or-be-killed world where starvation is rife and strangers are always dangerous, The Survivalist lives off the grid, and by his wits. When a starving woman and her teenage daughter discover his forest refuge, his loneliness drives him to overcome his suspicion and strike a bargain with them in return for bed and board. But as desire becomes stronger than necessity, the exchange becomes an uneasy, ongoing arrangement which threatens not only his carefully constructed world but also his life.Written by
Bulldog Distribution Limited
[All goofs for this title are spoilers.]
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[appearing outside his shack]
My name is Kathryn. And this is my daughter Milja. Would you be able to spare some of your crop?
We can offer something in exchange.
A real treasure, then. We have legumes, rusticas, strong varieties. These could boost your yield.
[tosses over a package of seeds]
Surely you can spare something. There's more than enough.
That's what they all thought.
Well, then perhaps... Perhaps, we could stay the night.
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The Survivalist: A truly bleak post-apocalypse film. Ireland after The Fall, global population has slumped as resources run out and civilisation has collapsed. The Survivalist (Martin McCann) lives alone in a small cabin in the woods living on subsistence farming, we see him burying a body and resetting a bear-trap, he does not welcome company. Kathryn (Olwen Fouré) and her teen "daughter" Milja (Mia Goth) arrive on his doorstep, at first he turns them away but the prospect of sex with Milja changes his mind and he feeds them, letting them stay for the night. The next day Milja convinces him to allow them to remain with him. Milja grows to like McCann but Kathryn has plans to take over the small farm, her sabotage (stealing The Survivalist's shotgun rounds) results in problems when Milja is snatched by a drifter.
Mostly filmed in the woods and the small cabin, there is claustrophobic feel to the film, one of the few occasions when we see wider vista is in fields where Milja is held captive so even there is no escape from confinement. Fouré convinces as the mother who will do what she has to in order to ensure her survival and that of her "daughter". She has been hardened by the years since The Fall and is unable to grasp the chance of a life which involves more than the two of them. Mia becomes torn between Fouré and McCann, she will have to make a decision. McCann has memories of how he lost his brother in a clash with other survivors, a story which is gradually pieced together. The paucity of animal life suggests that they also suffered a dieback. Only once is a rabbit caught in a tap and a bird's nest is a rare thing indeed. Raiders are also a constant fear and there is the implication that some of them are cannibals.
Filmed entirely in rural settings in Northern Ireland, The Survivalists is directed and written by Stephen Fingleton and provides a worthy addition to the Irish Post-Apocalyptic Canon. 8/10.
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