The Survivalist is the directorial debut film by Stephen Fingleton, who also wrote the screenplay for the film. His only previous screenplay, beyond shorts, was a 2006 comedy – The Battersea Ripper).
It’s set in a post apocalyptic environment and follows a man (played by Martin McCann – X+Y, Killing Bono) who is living in a forest in a life of solitude. He lives through growing vegetables near his wooden hut and has taken on this life in an attempt to survive in a situation that has seen the large majority of humanity destroyed.
His lifestyle seems to be somewhat routine as he goes about his daily activities, until the arrival of a woman and her younger daughter arrive at his hut.
As to background to the events, the opening credits reveal all that the film offers as context for to the vast impacts to the human population, only showing a graph with two lines that show the output of oil eventually tapering off, and then mass reductions in the human population soon afterwards.
It’s a noteworthy performance by McCann in the lead role as large parts of the film are completed without dialogue. In that sense it is reminiscent of Redford in 2013’s All is Lost, yet in a setting far more similar to the 2009 film The Road.
For a debut, it’s a significant achievement for Fingleton who delivers a dark, isolated feeling through the film riddled with suspicion and tension. Much like The Road it operates with a sense of paranoia about the intentions of any other human and the dark suggestions of what people will turn to in such situations to survive. They’ve achieved a lot with what was presumably a very low budget.