The Survivalist Movie Review
Smart, gritty and captivating, The Survivalist grabs you in the first minute and never lets go, even if you have to stare at star Martin McCann’s ratty haircut for two hours.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world where most of humanity has died out and food is scarce, McCann, who looks like a scrawny, less polished version of Michael Fassbender, plays an unnamed individual who subsists on a small patch of land in the woods. When an old woman (Olwen Fouere) arrives with a younger female who may or may not be her daughter (Mia Goth), his delicate world is put at risk.
McCann rarely speaks—in fact, none of the three leads had to remember many lines—but nonetheless commands the film, controlling each scene with careful glances and other unspoken actions (Goth and Fouere are equally good, for similar reasons). Such an accomplishment also speaks volumes to the skill of writer/director Stephen Fingleton, whose attention to detail, both in story and character, allows him to craft a fully realized world to which we’re only offered a glimpse.
The Survivalist is a beautifully made and unpredictably told film that maintains a high level of tension throughout, even in the quietest of moments. As good as it is, as intense as it is at times, however, it unfortunately suffers from a climax and conclusion that doesn’t live up to the rest of the production. It was almost inevitable—Fingleton’s world building, as isolated to a small corner of it as it is, is amazing, so to expect a conclusion to the momentary story he gives us to be equally amazing is all but unrealistic. Still, the ending is underwhelming compared to the rest of the movie.
The Survivalist is one of the better movies you’ll see all year (as of writing, it is available on Netflix), even if the journey is more powerful than the actual story.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.