*SPOILERS* This review may contain spoilers.
Breathe in. Feel that? Fresh air.
Even after being stuck in the back of an old car for days, smoking and drinking the water from tinned veg, getting drunk and everything else that goes with it, the air still feels fresh.
Let me tell you, The Battery is the most refreshing zombie apocalypse story to appear in an oversaturated mess of end of days dramas. Even I will admit that, and you all know about my boner for “The Walking Dead”.
The Battery follows Ben (writer and director Jeremy Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim), as they make their way through the desolate back roads of New England. Our hero’s played on the same baseball team before society collapsed, forming “The Battery”, the term used to describe the artillery like force of a pitcher catcher combination, however as the movie plays out, it seems they weren’t as close as other Batterymen of days gone by like Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford or Jack Coombs and Jack Lapp. It transpires that the last two men on earth ended up together as a matter of circumstance rather than bond and the movie becomes more a character study, watching how these men deal with each other’s differences in the face of adversity.
By now you may be asking why are people still making zombie apocalypse movies? Haven’t we seen every side to this story? Well, no, would be the simple answer. The Battery manages a somewhat new take in its narrative. First things first, the zombie make up, it’s not great. When you coexist with the mega budgeted “Walking Dead” it’s damn near impossible to match it with your practical effects. The undead look like me last Halloween.
The story is where this low budget effort shines. The situations are implied. The zombies are implied, for the most part. What we see is how the characters react and adapt to what has happened. We see our characters discuss the peril they have faced in the months following the outbreak and we can paint our own picture of what the world looks like now which is clever.
While watching “The Battery”, you’ll find yourself asking yourself the question, “am I a ‘Ben’? Or a ‘Mickey’?. Who would you be in the apocalypse? Would you be Ben and adjust quickly and easily into a world where societal norms as we know them don’t apply, scavenging through dead people’s belongings, killing zombies without fully knowing what being a zombie means for the person, not showering? Or would you be Mickey, pining for the world that once was, looking for someone to take control, hoping for a return to the status quo? I know who I’d be. I’d be Ben. 100 per cent. Liam would be Mickey (but less of a whiner). The arc for both characters is nothing new, both men realise the faults in themselves while realising the strengths from the other and it’s the stand out acting from both main characters which allows for believable transformations. This narrative travels along at a decent pace and only slows down when we reach our final location. However this change of pace is intentional and works with the story.
For me personally, what makes this story new, is the bleakness of the apocalypse. While the movie ends ambiguously, we aren’t given the impression that Ben and Mickey are thriving. Watching “The Walking Dead”, we follow Rick and the gang survive countless life threatening situations, and that gets boring. With “The Battery” we see the survivors who’s story isn’t as long or successful. The ones who’s story is already over before our usual hero wakes up from his coma. The zombie filled car left in the highway. “The Battery” tells us how they got there.
This movie works for me, and I intend to watch it many more times before I’m through. 4/5. And with that, I’m off to buy all of Jeremy Gardner’s movies.