Short Film Review “The Survivor”




First, the Recap:

Endurance. Perseverance. Fortitude. In the harshest of conditions, it becomes imperative for human beings to seek the means for continued existence. Finding methods to overcome the perils confronting them, it’s a true test of ability, stamina, and sheer, unadulterated will. When others cared for and beloved are involved as well, this drive to persist grows even stronger. For one young boy named Billy (Nick Kordysh), the post-apocalyptic world he aims to live in offers more than its fair share of challenges as he tries to care for his weakened, ill mother Winny (Valerie Lighthart) while suffering his bullying stepfather Roy (Sam Koze).

With the outside air poisoned to the point of being unbreathable and pure oxygen a rare and much sought after commodity, necessity outweighs fear of what awaits in the barren landscapes as Billy chooses to take on a supply run for water and medicine. Venturing across open terrain with the guidance of his enhanced toy robot while avoiding several potentially unpleasant situations, he reaches the trading post run by Zena (Alida LaCosse) and her rodent-phobic bodyguard (Zach McLain). Arranging a suitable deal for what he needs, a curfew violating run-in with a sympathetic cop named Casey (Anna Brennan) allows his trip to succeed, arriving home where events take a turn that makes the future look far more hopeful.

Next, my Mind:

When darkly futuristic worlds are portrayed, it’s so often the ones filled with rabid zombie-like mutants or other outlandish beasties. However, with director Christopher Carson Emmons’ newest 12-minute short film effort, the ominousness isn’t found with those monsters, but rather ones that can in so many ways be even scarier and more menacing–other human beings. Even as we see Billy’s home life so divided thanks to a ruthless stepfather, the world outside is filled with abject desperation that has driven regular people to the edge, willing to do anything to live, even if it means further destroying their fellow man. Yet, in the midst of all this subtly portrayed but still present chaos, there’s the undying willpower and tenacity of a boy determined to see his ailing mother become better so that they might, perhaps, then find a way to be rid of the thorn in both their sides. It all illustrates a level of, well, heroism and mettle we can so greatly engage with and root for, even while having the “What would I be willing to do if in the same circumstances?”-based thoughts it elicits. The stark, basic visual presentation here aids well in establishing an edgy tone, transporting us into a grounded though harrowing reality being experienced.

Kordysh does a wonderful job in his role as Billy, a goodhearted, normal kid thrust into a less-than-ideal situation in having his mom ill and being at the mercy of a cold, ungrateful stepfather who mistreats them both while demanding everything. Billy’s choices to encounter the dangers he does when making his supply run is, as mentioned above, out of total necessity, but also out of an almost innate urge to see his world become better, even if he doesn’t yet know how. The steps towards this he ultimately comes to during his adventure is both heartfelt and revelatory, hinting at things to come. With all body language and little dialogue, Kordysh effectively brings the character alive. Koze does an equally good job in his supporting role as Roy, a dastardly piece of work who we simply know is even worse than what is seen, and one of those people who really do want to see get theirs. Lighthart performs admirably as Billy’s sickly mom Winny, whom we can tell totally adores her son to the “nth” degree and who more than desires they be away from Roy’s presence. LaCosse also does a fine job in her appearance as Zena, the head of a trading post filled with highly desired rations and medicines dearly needed in the trying times they live.

Additional support arrives via Brennan as a kindly cop named Casey, whose interaction with Billy indicates more than just a passage home alive, along with McLain as Zena’s physically intimidating yet hilariously cowardly bodyguard, Matthew Nichols as a creepy preacher, Tawnie Thompson as one of his zealots, and others including Carl Chopp, Rodney Craig Dukes, and Martin Doordan. In total, “The Survivor” may not in itself be breaking any brand new ground, but it does present an straightforward and affecting look at the human will to persist, the power to take on obstacles for the ones we love, and find the means to see a brighter day ahead in the midst of darkness.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!


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