By Brody Rossiter
Jeremy Gardner’s The Battery looks to reinvigorate the tired tropes of the typical zombie apocalypse movie by zoning in on the strained yet endearing relationship between former baseball players forced together by the cataclysmic arrival of the undead.
Starring Gardner himself as the gruff and bearded Ben, and Adam Cronheim as the introverted Mickey, The Battery presents an unlikely friendship between a realist and a romantic, and how these duelling personalities interact with one another and an environment defined by ever-present dangers. Ben is resourceful and clearly identified as the chief reason for the pair staying alive for so long. He hunts and gathers and isn’t afraid of popping zombie heads with a bat or handgun. Meanwhile, Mickey hides inside the music pumping from a battery-powered Walkman, incapable of accepting his current fate and the unable to overcome everything he’s already lost.
When the two revisit the home of Adam’s ex-girlfriend, he rifles through her underwear draw, collecting mementos and spraying them with perfume. His actions aren’t painted as sexualised or creepy; instead they appear melancholic and affectionate. While Mickey mourns, Ben paws through the contents of the tool-laden garage searching for supplies. The contrast in imagery is distinct and a presents a theme of dependency (upon both one another and the past) which is revisited throughout.
The dynamic between the two is the picture’s most unique and accomplished component, as the contrasting characters perfectly represent a bond forged upon circumstance and survival; the men are close, but not too close and often judgmental of one another’s approach to this new world. A close second to that bond is the soundtrack which scores its many trials and tribulations. Including unique songs recorded by a variety of indie artists, bluesy death marches, swooning acoustic ballads and contemporary electronica permeate the film’s vivid sun-kissed imagery with great effect.
While The Battery’s portrayal of zombies isn’t particularly terrifying, their lingering and largely unseen presence vastly influences characters and their actions, actions which are often desperate and violent. Unique camera angles and framing foster an unsettling and deeply personal tone that situates the audience right beside Mickey and Ben as they navigate the untamed American wilderness. Dialogue is consistently well-conceived, straying away from the typical post-zombie-apocalypse interactions and working out its clichéd kinks. Instead of threatening to cut a throat, antagonists threaten to use their knife to take an eye.
As Mickey faces the trials of fire often instigated Ben and life on the road becomes increasingly precarious, The Battery becomes all the more involving as another invaluable relationship is formed between the authentic characters and the viewer who will hopefully be won over by the picture’s atypical approach to a zombie flick. Full of heart and peril, The Battery is a powerful road trip that leaves many contemporary horror films in its dust.