Blu-ray Review: The Survivalist

Once upon a time the future was an exciting place full of jetpacks and weekend jaunts to a casino on the Moon. Human were going places. But in the post-9/11 universe, the future went bleak very quick. No longer did we envision how in a few years we’d be dazzled by technology that would improve our lives. Instead of rockets to Venus, we’re left pondering how we’ll cope when the world goes to Hell. What will happen when either nature revolts, the dead rise from their graves or Netflix jacks up it’s monthly fee by a buck. Some of the films and TV shows do an amazing job of envisioning a future marked by decay and entropy as society completely breaks down. The Survivalist is a surprisingly smart tale of what can happen collapsing times.

The world has fallen apart although why is not explained. Deep in the woods is a man (Martin McCann) who has struggled to create a sanctuary from the destruction beyond the trees. He has a cabin and a small farm that allows him to subsist. Things are risky since he spends his time setting up traps on the perimeter against others man. Even with the defense, he discovers Katherine (Olwen Fouéré) and Milja (Nymphomanic‘s Mia Goth) on his property. The mother and daughter want shelter and offer him a simple arrangement that Milja will sleep with him and the mother sticks around. He sort of buys into it because he needs companionship and farming could be easier with help. Of course in a world where all is at risk, there’s immediate fears that the supplies won’t last. There’s constant plotting between the mother and daughter. But they don’t want to do him in too fast since there’s the danger of other men finding them. Survival is the name of the game for this trio. What will each of them do in order to stay alive?

The Survivalist is a tense tale that doesn’t try to sugar coat life after the disaster. Everyone has to remain playing an angle. Even when there’s supposed to be a sense of intimacy, everyone keeps their guard up. There’s no relaxing in this world without any sort of security or society. Writer-director Stephen Fingleton plays it right on many levels. As a viewer, you can’t look at the screen without sensing jeopardy for all the characters. There’s not much talking as these people live such scared and solitary lives. Plus talk can only attract the wrong kind of people. This is the tone I except in my post-apocalyptic visions. The Survivalist thrives on the screen even with the bleakest of times in the woods.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the details in the countryside and elements of a decaying society. The audio is DTS-HD MA 5.1. There’s also a mix in DTS-HD MA 2.0. Because of the lack of dialogue, you can appreciate the nature sounds in the compound. The movie has English and Spanish subtitles.

The Making of the Survivalist (21:48) gets us on the rugged set. Chris Smith’s documentary Collapse led to director Stephen Fingleton to write his vision of the future.

Magpie (15:56) is the precursor made by Stephen Fingleton with Martin McCann as the lead. It is also about a time when the population bubble burst. This survivalist is on the trail having to fight other men for remaining commodities. Mia Goth appears, but Olivia Williams is the third in this version.

Insulin (11:23) is about a drugstore in collapsing world from Fingleton.

Awaydays (11:48) is about a dad who has his last weekend with his boys before going back into family court with his ex-wife. He teaches the kids how to survive in the wilderness. He fears the end is coming.

Trailer (2:02) sets up society reduced down to the woods.

Shout! Factory presents The Survivalist. Directed by: Stephen Fingleton. Screenplay by: Stephen Fingleton. Starring: Mia Goth, Martin McCann & Olwen Fouéré. Running Time: 103 minutes. Rated: Not Rated. Released: October 3, 2017.

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