Film Review: The Battery (USA, 2012)


It’s been zombies on the brain of late (pun intended), last year was a good year for undead horror flicks with Hollywood churning out some doozies (World War Z, Warm Bodies, Contracted). This genre is tricky, because it’s been overworked so many times, but looking back on the releases above it’s clear to see something’s different, the plight of the zombie has been given a clever fresh perspective, which is where art house come horror film The Battery slots in nicely.

Welcome to the post apocalyptic world where zombies have broken loose, there’s no real explanation for how they got that way (artistic licence kicks in here). Two baseball players Ben (Jeremy Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim) were at practice in Pittsfield when it all went down and since then have survived through a nomadic lifestyle, collecting supplies where they can and slaying when they have to. Ben and Mickey are chalk n cheese, thrust together unwillingly, having been on the same baseball team but not in the same social circles. Ben’s a survivalist and a realist, whilst Mickey is in denial about the new world, longing for the comforts of home and refusing to help out, instead retreating behind his headphones. Mickey discovers a couple of walkie talkies whilst looting an abandoned house and the pair pick up a conversation between others out there, who don’t want to be found. Mickey intrigued by Annie’s (played by Alana O’Brien) voice starts a desperate search for other human contact, which turns into an obsession with tragic outcomes.

Horror may be too loose of a category for this film, yes there are zombies, but they’re the real slow moving type, becoming more of a nuisance than a threat. They’re not really deadly unless you’re dumb enough to let one get too close or a whole gang of them catch you off guard and corner you. The Battery which is a baseball term for the pitcher and catcher, focuses more on it’s psychological slant than horror (akin to Stephen King’s The Stand), playing on the animalistic tendencies of human nature, protagonist versus antagonist, that sort of thing. Unusually, reflective of the art house stamp there’s a big emphasis on music, from the opening credits where all indie artists on the soundtrack are noted, then flogged in the score, to Ben’s spirited drunken performance, to anything Mickey’s listening to in his discman (how old skool). Can this border on annoying? Maybe. Is it good to hear damn fine blues grass stomp, that suits the film’s context? Big resounding yes.

Jeremy Gardner is a jack of all trades, acting in, writing and directing this movie, and judging by the quality despite the low budget, mastering them all. It’s sickening and impressive to think so much talent can come of one person. Gardner encapsulates Ben’s man vs wild, tough love, bushy, hermit smart arse qualities so well, pretty much delivering most of the film’s humour and liveliness. Not to say that Adam Cronheim doesn’t do a great job as Mickey, who’s nonchalance and initial uselessness is so very grating, until he snaps out of it and turns into a rather likeable guy. The pair’s gradual mental descent which comes full circle, is oddly, a real highlight, they come across as real people slowly coming apart, as one would in this situation.

A retro lover’s dream, The Battery smacks of hipster appreciation, even some notable pop culture references (Tremors anyone?) make the cut. The pair’s isolation is reflected in the beautifully unkempt scenery and a lot of thought has been put into producing and scripting the story’s slow build. The climactic ending feels right, but unfortunately takes way too long to get there and in this sense could have been used more effectively (you’ve been trapped in a car surrounded by wailing zombies for days, you’re running out of food and water and their constant moans are driving you mad, this scene does not have to be ten minutes long, for us to get the gist). Having said that though, The Battery is one of those snappy, smart and wacky (cue random masturbation scene here) deals that can easily be thrown on top of the potential cult classic pile.

Duration: 101 minutes

Official trailer for The Battery below:


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