Dir/scr: Jeremy Gardner. US. 2012. 101mins
A low-key, clever and rather charming indie tale of life after the zombie apocalypse, The Battery is one of the better additions to the ever-expanding list of walking dead movies and while it has its flesh-munching moments what sets it apart it is sense of bucolic grace and gentle moments as a rather mis-matched pair of men try to get by in a rural world ravaged by some sort of outbreak.
The performances are engaging and top notch soundtrack and cinematography help set the film apart from the plethora of other zombie movies.
The film, which played at Montreal’s Fantasia festival to appreciative audiences (and has played at other genre festivals) has the smarts and the occasional gore factor to appeal to distributors and other genre festivals (imagine if Kelly Reichardt had made a zombie film and you have a sense of what it is like…a sort of an ‘Old Joy vs Zombies’ film), and hints of good things to come from writer/director (and star) Jeremy Gardner and his talented cinematographer Christian Stella).
Apparently the title refers to the combination of pitcher and catcher in a baseball team, with ‘the battery’ referring to two players who work well together. Though it could also refer to the constant search for batteries to power the music player that provides an escape from the realities of their life. Whichever, it is not the most evocative of titles.
The film dwells on mild-mannered and rather dreamy Mickey (Adam Cronheim) – the pitcher - and burly and bearded Ben, the catcher, (writer/director Jeremy Gardner) who seem to be stuck with each other rather than being best buds (though they do have history) as they wander through woods and backroads just trying to stay alive.
Mickey is the one with his headphones constantly in place who shaves, wears bright clothes and gets excited when he wins $1,000 on a scratch-card, while shaggy bearded Ben is the zombie-killer of the pair who tends to do most of the delving into darkened houses while Mickey waits outside. A delightful highpoint comes when the pair find some toothpaste and relish getting a chance to brush their teeth.
When they overhear other living people talking over walkie-talkies they realise they are not alone and Mickey especially gets obsessed with the chance of meeting other people, and is especially intrigued by Claire, a young woman he hears talking. This finally sees them heading towards darker territory…not so much from the shuffling dead, but from the dangers of the living.
A rather subdued climax may well split audiences – its low-key and static nature rather at odds with the rambling nature of the rest of the film – but there is a great deal to be got out of The Battery. The performances are engaging and top notch soundtrack and cinematography help set the film apart from the plethora of other zombie movies.
Production company/contact: O. Hannah Films, firstname.lastname@example.org
Producers: Adam Cronheim, Jeremy Gardner, Douglas A Plomitallo, Christian Stella
Executive producers: Matt Bacco, Casey Dohme, Aaron Fawcett, Kelly McQuade, Sean McQuade, Jamie Pantanella, Bob Precious, Ben Pryzby, Will Starks
Cinematography: Christian Stella
Editors: Michael Katzman, Alicia Stella
Music: Ryan Winford
Main cast: Jeremy Gardner, Adam Cronheim, Alana O’Brien, Niels Bolle, Jamie Pantanella