Written and Directed by Jeremy Gardner
Staring Jeremy Gardner and Adam Cronheim
The over saturation of the zombie movie in the last 10 years has lead to a steep drop in originality, leaving horror fans everywhere hungry for something with more brains to come along. Thanks to a little graphic novel called The Walking Dead making its way into mainstream culture though, there is now a newfound approach to this (un)dead genre. Pardon the pun. We have seen it move away from straight up survival horror, in which hordes of the rotting dead slowly chase after uninteresting people we know almost nothing about, to more character driven dramas. THE BATTERY may have taken this new direction too far for its own good.
Ben (Jeremy Gardner, also the writer and director of the film) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim) are an unlikely duo of ex-semiprofessional baseball players who find themselves stuck with each other, trying to traverse an undead laden landscape, looking for food and shelter, but never staying in one place too long for fear of attacks. Not only must they deal with zombies but with each other’s idiosyncratic and annoying behaviour. Ben is the resourceful survivalist that uses his skills in order to survive. Mickey on the other hand, refuses to let go of the past, constantly lost in his music and always on the look out for that glimmer of hope. One day, when the two have found a set of walkie-talkies, they pick up a transmission between a woman and a man, and something called “The Compound”, which Mickey latches on to as their salvation. The two men come at this prospect in different ways but must still learn to come together as all they have is one another.
To say that THE BATTERY moves at a zombie’s pace is both an understatement and another pun. The opening scene is the perfect indication as to what to expect from the rest of the film. It opens with a still shot of Mickey outside a house smoking, listening to his headphones for what seems like an eternity. All of a sudden we hear a scream and Ben appears in the doorway and turns to shoot something unseen behind him. Until the last 20 minutes of the movie, that is about all the action we get. The lack of zombies in this zombie movie is definitely surprising. I almost didn’t even mind though as I was more drawn into the relationship between the two men.
Ben and Mickey, while both completely different and with separate intentions, compliment one another quite well. We see the two of them laugh and fight with each other and eventually learning to make compromises. I’m not sure if we are ever meant to feel more for one or the other because both have qualities that are equally frustrating and selfish, but the scenes of the two men working their problems out adds a more realistic, more human touch to what is essentially a character drama with a post-apocalyptic backdrop. If only Gardner had let the central relationship continue down this path of discovery instead of indulging his passion for indie rock music so often, passing the time with mundane montages in lieu of actual development, then maybe THE BATTERY could have really been something fresh and new.
In the end, THE BATTERY is unfocused and confused. It isn’t going to satisfy the real action horror fan. In fact, a less involved fan just expecting a zombie movie with loads of blood and exploding heads will also be sorely disappointed. If it weren’t for all the music video scenes, the film would be a solid entry in the zombie genre, a step forward for it even, but there are just too many of them to ignore the director’s lack of confidence in his work. At the very least, it does offer a peak into the potential the genre has earned in this post Walking Dead world. Perhaps the zombie genre still has a little life left in her yet.