The horror genre landscape appears like a freshly dug cemetery, where each grave represents another zombie film, and in fact, some estimated in 2011 the count toppled over 530 dating back to the beginning with films like White Zombie (1932). Whatever the number might be, it fluctuates due to more and more independent filmmakers entering, submitting their versions of the undead, the great ones of serious impact lose sight in the wasteland, and fear of forgetting quality films such as The Battery. This movie, truly is not just another typical zombie movie, it really adapts to understanding of the human need for affection and communication, and the loss of it all detrimental to each personal psyche. Jeremy Gardner serves as director, writer and actor on his debut horror feature film, who has since gone on to star in Spring (2014) and The Mind’s Eye (2015) , makes the best of limited resources for this masterfully crafted movie. His movie took longer to edit and exist in post-production than shot, using a budget of $6,000 and two weeks, with a crew of few friends, makes other aspiring filmmakers think back to films like Blair Witch Project (1999) and Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968). While the film does contain some artsy human moments, and less of zombie violence, it plays with topics of claustrophobia, paranoia, and destruction of humankind’s normalcy, replacing it with extreme bouts of drama.
Very early into the film one realizes this venture into the land of the undead, is very different and thankful for that delivery, as the audience learns about the zombie apocalypse from two former baseball players (not necessarily friends) Ben (Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim). They survive more as a mutual partnership, though Mickey truly needs Ben more than the vice versa. Think of The Walking Dead and move to even a smaller scale of trying to live day by day, without any love, just enduring nature to survive. However, this movie goes deeper, with Mickey needing things, affection, connection and safety, it other words staying at the house of his believed to be dead girlfriend’s home, while Ben thinks living in one place equals death. His thought of constant motion makes one safe, never to adapt to a resting moment. Hence, the two travel the back roads, dirt paths of New England, surviving the large crowds of swarming zombie hordes, and thereby also achieving an isolationist utopia. Now the film is not without two strange points, the lengthy filming of brushing teeth, reason for the long take leaves an average viewer confused, unless to state the comfortability with each other or the importance of pristine hygiene in post-apocalyptic world. The other and highly more amusing scene of Mikey engaged in a self-pleasure moment while ogling a female zombie. Aside from the two playing catch often and swinging at apples, Ben has the natural mindset of hunting and killing, yet interested in learning both archery and about the dead. Mickey surrounds himself with headphones of a CD player and holding onto a $1000 dollar lottery card all in the hope of life returning to normal. Gardner and Cronheim deliver outstanding performances both individually and they work very well especially during the final 20-minutes of the film, this portion of the movie ratchets the psychological impact dramatically affecting the viewers.
Although much of the movie moves at a snail pace, the action sequence has stark and bold moments, with much of it occurring only with sound, reflecting on the minuscule budget. The film does lack the customary gore factors often associated with the zombie genre, therefore no head smashing, splatter or gut munching occurs, it really is not that type of zombie movie. The script paints the broad strokes of nothingness, yet never reflecting about what is happening out the character primary visual world, and why should they, no control about it, and never diving into how it starts, just that now it exists.
Battery serves multiple meanings as a title, namely first in baseball the unit of pitcher and catcher (the jobs of Mickey and Ben), then also their ability to process the psychological tests of this new life, for adapting to and learning when brains beat brawn. Therefore, when seeking that next zombie film to enjoy, perhaps bypass the gore factors and stroll over to a movie more centered in drama and less in chaotic survivability.