Thursday, 11 February 2016

REVIEW - THE SURVIVALIST (STEPHEN FINGLETON)


Stephen Fingleton assembles what little he can on an evidently scant budget into an engaging, convincing thriller that's too aware of what it aspires to be to notice what it already is. There's fine technique on display in The Survivalist - ostensibly mere technique for technique's sake, but it's keenly atmospheric in Fingleton's astute use of sound and the correspondence he forms between his film and its few locations. The trouble arises when The Survivalist nods its head toward some grander sense of societal significance. You get what you're given, naturally, and there's an inevitability to this thread of the film, its essentiality as an element of staple post-apocalyptic stories. A chilling opening image aside, however, Fingleton betrays his film's neatly calibrated insularity not by the necessary intrusions, but by a narrative extrusion, the formation of an ugly, unseemly context at the very end that upsets one's interpretations of what has gone before. If Fingleton borrows 99% of what he showcases in The Survivalist, he at least puts much of it to good use in his execution of his overall scheme; it's that scheme where these borrowed materials are of shoddy origin, shoddily exploited for shoddy purpose. Your recollection of the rest of the film deserves better than this, better than the confirmation that this isn't just another post-apocalyptic thriller - it's yet another post-apocalyptic thriller. In case of apocalypse, might I suggest we make every effort to save Mia Goth? She bungles the accent, but nails every other element of her character, and boasts a dramatic range you'd hardly have expected to emerge from such a humdrum role. Literally, she's all that survives.