The post-zombie-apocalyptic “The Battery” offers much more, than a brainless entertainment packed in a form of a spectacular, bloody massacre with disgusting zombies chewing bones and throwing intestines everywhere. Rather rigid budgetary limits have forced Jeremy Gardner (who is the director, screenwriter and a leading role in it) to take a different point of view – “The Battery” comes out as a tale about basic human needs, little things, which we miss only, when we lose them and finally, about the true cruelty of survival instinct buried deep inside every human.
Two former baseball players – Ben (Jeremy Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim) – wander in desolate woods and lands, struggling to survive after the world was depopulated by zombie plague. Without any particular destination in their minds, they catch the moments of what might be the last days of humanity on their road. Constantly changing their place of stay, not certain what to expect every single day, both try to do things, which used to make them happy.
Gardner’s first full-length film was filmed with a minute budget, but that is actually what makes it a very unique movie. The walking corpses are not there to terrify, but reminisce what was once lost – they are sloppily lumping around, disturbingly moaning and whining all the time – and that is exactly how Ben and Mickey feel internally, living day by day without any aim in their horizons. Hence, the director is not trying to frighten his audience, but rather prove how miserable life is without any particular aim and – essentially – without company. “The Battery” is not a movie about two best friends, who struggle with a crisis related to being alone in the universe – it’s a movie about a beauty of small things. And as Jeremy Gardner said in one of interviews regarding his debut movie – the scene, when Ben and Jeremy are just washing teeth, is probably the most powerful one in the whole film.
There are moments, when “The Battery” becomes a bit long-winded and not to the point, but these moment also constitute the sole idea of the way it is narrated. There are no fast cars, beautiful women, action-packed plot – there is pure, almost cynical “everydayness”, painfully adapted to the ubiquitous existence of slowly lumping half-deads. Ben, who seems to be better adapted to the new reality, becomes a guide for Mickey, but all in all – both are completely lost.
The soundtrack to Gardner’s film is one of the strongest features of it. A fascinating mixture of country and folk-influenced music suits perfectly the damping vision of solitary roam among moaning zombies – sometimes the lyrics of the songs used define what we are observing and sometimes the soundtrack plays the leading role. Jeremy Gardner’s “The Battery” is also an interesting cinematography challenge – the shots are well-thought and add up to general value of the film.
Summarizing, “The Battery” might be one of my all-time favorites in the zombie movies genre. Gardner’s drama is intelligent, very human and emotionally-weaven, but at the same time constitutes a very raw piece of cinema, down to earth picture. It is entertaining in a very peculiar manner, giving an impression of a reality-show-like gig. If we really end up one day in a world plagued with brainless, roaming dead people – I really wish I had someone to drink the last bottle of whisky with as well, just as Mickey and Ben did.
UMP Grade: 35/50
(Cinematography: 7, Plot: 6, Acting: 6, Soundtrack: 8, Quaintness: 8)