Stephen Fingleton’s debut feature The Survivalist follows his award-winning short SLR and Magpie. The film’s universe is characterised by paranoia, which continues when two women come to the Survivalist for help. SubscribeEnter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content. NewsletterPlease enter your email address below to receive the Filmbase weekly email newsletter. But the man gradually begins to lose control, not necessarily of the situation, but of the film as Milja becomes “The Survivalist”’s most pivotal character. Singleton, who never repeats the same angle twice visually, is equally dynamic with his screenplay, continually coming up with new angles for the relationship. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.
Cut from the same cloth as The Road (the wait for a cheery post-apocalyptic film goes on), The Survivalist is just as bleak if not bleaker than that adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel. Martin McCann is the eponymous survivor, scrounging around an unnamed part of Northern Ireland after an undisclosed economic disaster has all but rid the planet of its population. If McCann’s character has little to work with in this stark new world, writer-director Fingleton is just as economic with the writing.
Goth - Acted well, but she looked far to healthy for the life she was supposed to be living. The opinions expressed in the comments section are those of the viewer and do not reflect those of Perhaps we do get an overabundance of post-apocalyptic movies, but Stephen Fingleton’s feature debut, The Survivalist, makes me long for the cliche because he strips his film of everything that makes the concept enjoyable and entertaining. The film follows a man surviving by any means possible, living alone in a shack in the woods making his own crops, completely secluded. The Survivalist is a minimalist movie that takes its time and doesn’t spoon-feed the audience information. With very little dialogue in the whole movie the actors have a lot to carry, but their performances are outstanding, especially Martin McCann who plays the hermit and Mia Goth, the young daughter. It goes without saying that director Fingleton is someone to watch out for, The Survivalist is his first feature film so it’s exciting to think where he will go next.
Two women emerge out of the forest – a starving middle-aged mother and her young adult daughter seeking to bargain seeds, now a valuable currency, for food and shelter for a night. Every unsparing physical detail is uncomfortably convincing and realistic – there are no special effects. Indeed, the feature is set in the same post-apocalyptic world of the latter short in which oil dependency and food supplies plummeting create a cut-throat world that is nearly impossible to survive in. We follow the figure to the cabin in which he lives and intrigue continues to grow as we see his everyday means of living. The older, mystifying Kathryn (Olwen Fouere), offers her teenage daughter, the quiet but tough Milja (Mia Goth), to spend the night with him in exchange for food and shelter. Without giving too much away, its stand-out scene takes place in the rushes when the Survivalist goes in search for Milja, who is missing.
The graphic imagery includes full frontal (male and female) nudity, rotting flesh, maggots, masturbation, periods, and bloody internal organs.
There are hints of the civilization he left behind, a lot of which was presumably wiped about by starvation to judge by the ferocity he protects the small garden that sits in front of his heavily boarded up house.
Fingleton only amplifies the dread from there, even though he operates at a slow burn with plenty of fire to ignite.
As played by the blank-faced Goth, who memorably first graced screens in Lars von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac,” Milja’s loyalties are never entirely clear until she acts, seemingly forming a bond with the man with whom she’s now carnally involved but nodding in agreement when her mother whispers plans to kill him when he’s out of earshot. When one small piece changes, it sends ripples through the whole and though a sense of humor is nowhere to be found in these woods, one can’t help but smirk as “The Survivalist” grows darker and darker with one twist nastier than the next. Derry native Stephen Fingleton’s debut looks for but finds little warmth in human nature.
Food is in short supply and McCann has turned to growing his own, with a makeshift garden outside his fortified shack. Not a word of dialogue is spoken for the first fifteen minutes as McCann shuffles about, dragging dead bodies to compost heaps, watering his vegetables, masturbating over soiled pictures of women who (presumably) are long dead. But no matter how well-crafted his characters are, or how confident the story-telling is, Fingleton needs three actors to give the almost-wordless action emotional resonance and he must thank the stars for his three leads. accepts no responsibility, legal or otherwise, for the accuracy of viewer comments. Perhaps the situation in The Survivalist is more grounded and realistic than most, but it’s also dull, off-putting and downright miserable. He lives alone in a tiny cabin in the woods, grows his own crops, and hugs a rifle day and night.

Sure, the world’s gone to shit and you can go hungry or be killed at any second, but that shouldn’t completely strip people of their personalities – or at least not in a movie.
New British movie The Survivalist presents a world where we have used up all our resources, society has broken down and we are left to fend for ourselves.
His world dramatically changes when a mother and daughter find his home and try to become a part of it.
Most apocalyptic movies have a big explanation as to what brought it all about or base their whole premise on that very thing, but here the end of civilisation is briefly explained via the opening credits of the film and that’s it, our survivalist’s mission starts. For one, it’s beautifully shot; there isn’t much to see in the sense that there’s primarily one location, but director Stephen Fingleton uses unique camera angles to keep up intrigue and suspense and uses the backdrop of the woods to its full potential. A lot is said between the two without words and their strange situation is perfectly portrayed, sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes affectionate. It doesn’t rely on a soundtrack to add suspense, in fact the lack of any noise is what keeps you on your toes.
If you’re looking for a gruelling movie that will give you something a little different then The Survivalist is something you definitely should be watching. Here you will find all the latest British film news, releases, trailers and interviews as well as some great competitions prizes. Then we are plunged straight into a time of starvation, where survival depends on doing whatever it takes to find food and shelter. Mia Goth (Nymphomanic II) is her daughter Milja, a child-woman, at first enigmatic, but maturing in the course of the film.
Like Magpie, The Survivalist takes place in an ambient forest which is luscious in its green colour yet haunted by death.
The film evokes much Western iconography in its initial focus on the lone hero, his wooden cabin, the referencing of The Searchers in alluding to its famous doorway shot, and the deserted wilderness setting that surrounds the Survivalist.
They gradually become accepted into the Survivalist’s cabin and his way of life but the women plot to get rid of him so that they can have his crops for themselves, and there are further dangers in store for all three. Damien Elliott’s cinematography captures a gripping moment and will have you holding your breath in anticipation. It is one of the more original post-apocalyptic films to be released as of late and is a curiously thought-provoking at that, but its bleakness will not appeal to all audiences.
And it’s dire enough for one of the few who dares approaches, a woman named Kathryn (Olwen Fouere), to offer up the sexual services of her teen daughter Milja (Mia Goth) if only the two could come inside. The man he finds in nature has been there for seven years, once with a brother, with his routine of setting bear traps and securing the many locks on his door suddenly upset by the arrival of Kathryn and Milja, who are only slightly less weary of him than he is of them. Yet as the film largely depends on emotional violence for its drama, it doesn’t spare on the physical action, never letting the audience forget the peril that awaits around every corner in this post-apocalyptic wasteland. Forever alert, he hardly sleeps, his ears tuned to any unfamiliar noise coming from the surrounding woods. It’s sparse storytelling, with little to go on apart from a credit sequence of a black screen and two lines on a graph (oil, population) first spiking, and then plummeting.
McCann (Occi Byrne, Killing Bono, 71), one of the most underrated actors around today, is once again terrific.
I didn't read your full review before I saw it so the opening 15 minutes was a surprise to me with no dialogue.
To make up for that, the sounds in the background and the imagery were absolutely brilliant. Minus the fact that he’s clearly haunted by an incident involving his brother, things are okay (or okay as they can be given the circumstances) until Kathryn (Olwen Fouere) and her daughter Milja (Mia Goth) stumble upon his hideaway. Sure, there’s a reason for her willing submission and McCann does manage to convey that his character truly cares for her, but she’s still sleeping with him in exchange for food and shelter, and it’s so off-putting that it’s distracting. No matter what Fingleton thinks would really go down if the population had to adapt to a post-apocalyptic lifestyle, The Survivalist is still a movie and a movie needs to be entertaining in some respect, and this one’s not whatsoever. The movie is the aftermath, we know nothing about our protagonist’s past or where he is and it’s a refreshing way to tell this kind of story, learning more as we go.
A film that has very few characters and one location could get very dull, very quickly but that never happens here.
There’s no music track to give emotional clues, the soundscape creates a subtle sense of displacement. Fitted with a custom rails system, this slingshot allows you to easily mount accessories like a tactical flashlight, a Whisker Biscuit for firing arrows, or any weaver accessory.With a cast aluminum alloy handle, the slingshot doubles as a carrying kit for your ammo and some survival gear. This first section of the film contains no dialogue and Martin McCann (My Boy Jack, Swansong: Story of Occi Byrne) is subtle and assured in his performance of the leading unnamed character.
But first-time feature director Stephen Fingleton does well never to tip his hand, perhaps because the one he’s created inside the cramped cabin between the trio of characters, none of whom particularly trust each other, is so intriguing all on its own. There is no score to break the tension, giving even more importance to each word spoken, already carrying considerable weight with the man’s hair trigger meaning just one misconstrued turn of phrase could be the difference between life and death for the women. One day a starving woman (Fouere) and her teenage daughter (Goth) come asking for help, the woman offering her daughter in exchange for room and board.

Tightly wound and eyes darting like a paranoid wildebeest, McCann’s performance is an edgy and memorable one. Taking them in could destroy the order, secrecy and safety he’s established, but he decides to make some changes in order to build a life with them. And it certainly doesn’t help that Kathryn and Milja aren’t particularly pleasant people to be around either. It’s slow, bleak and doesn’t leave you with anything to think about besides finding the quickest way to snap out of it and get on with your life.
Fingleton does capture an abundance of curious smaller details while covering the main character’s daily chores, but he seems to have forgotten the importance of an establishing shot. As mentioned, there is very little dialogue so noises like the creaking of the floorboards as he stands on guard against intruders in his home and the howling of the wind outside become their own characters, bringing the film to life. We are in the heart of a damp, muddy forest, where a man with a shotgun is meticulously tending a tiny plot of vegetable plants outside his flimsy wooden shack.
It’s the start of an intricate relationship of shifting power balances between the three. Our hero is efficient at making fires and growing food, even using his own bodily fluids so nothing goes to waste.
While fearful of McCann’s shotgun, which is mostly pointed at her head throughout, Olwen Fouere has to juggle terror and a faux calm, and in the middle is Goth, watching both, loyal to both, but only until the time comes where she has to pick a side. The Survivalist does answer the first question using an opening graphic that reveals that after the downfall of oil production, the population plummeted, but that’s about it. Perhaps the movie is better off not revealing where McCann’s cabin is located in relation to the rest of civilization, but we needed a wide shot of the cabin itself early on. Not using haunting music to trick an audience into feeling a particular way is a bold but brilliant move, it makes this film stand out and perfectly matches the rest of the film’s aesthetic. The survivalist has been alone for seven years – even though he knows they could be a threat to his self-preservation, they are company. I am not a fan of hollow handles, especially on things like knives, so when I noticed the hollow handle I had some reservations.
However, he is lonely and constantly fearful as can be seen when he anxiously looks around him while he hastily washes some distance from his cabin retreat. Kathryn and Milja are totally self-serving and, on top of that, they don’t have much personality.
For a good deal of the film, the rich details of the cabin interior are tough to appreciate because you have absolutely no sense of the extent of the structure. We see the intimacies of his daily routine of nurturing shoots, fertilising the soil with his urine, his mantraps, washing, cooking, keeping the fire going using pages torn from a Bible, the scraps of possessions from his former life that remain.
Against his better judgement he lets them stay, but we see the women are secretly plotting something. I simply refuse to even look at a knife that has a hollow handle, but after using the slingshot I was pretty surprised to find the hollow handle did not affect the durability at all.The handle is large enough to slide in two plastic tubes filled with either extra ammo, or the included survival gear.
An uneasy arrangement evolves between the three of them, but an unspecified threat is ever present.
The only sound is his movements and the ambient sounds of the forest yet, with no dialogue, McCann’s gaunt, paranoid face holds the attention spellbindingly.
From time to time, attacks come to them from outside in the shape of feral armed marauders seeking food. The slingshot itself is made with aerospace grade aluminum alloy and high strength steel and then fitted with a 25-pound-pull high-grade surgical tubing band.The moment I put this thing in my hands I was pretty darn impressed. There are intriguing flashes of scenes of flight, bodies and visceral burial in the woods, which could be either flashbacks or forward. We see how great fear in the face of danger but also what people who once may have been ordinary people like us are prepared to do to survive.
The quality and construction, combined with the lifetime warranty, make this the toughest and most reliable slingshot I’ve ever seen. I must emphasize, this is not a toy and is not something I would recommend giving to a child. While the included bands haven’t given me any problems, they can and will eventually fail. If you’re going to be carrying the slingshot, you probably want to carry an extra band or two.
While I haven’t used it enough to call myself an expert, I was able to reliably hit my targets with accuracy and repeatability.

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