Thursday, October 31, 2013

FILM REVIEW: The Battery (2012)


There ain't no grave that can hold this movie down!

Seriously...if you're looking for a beautifully shot film with impeccable character development and sheer badass style...you need not look any further than the indie zombie film...The Battery. A zombie film that uses traditional sub-genre elements sparsely and concentrates on the story and characters foremost. It's a gripping picture that should not be overlooked.

The Battery  takes its moniker from the name given to the partnership between a pitcher and his catcher in baseball. It is an essential part of the game which can lead to amazing effects in the sport, as there have been many successful batteries in baseball history. Here, the term takes on a deeper meaning when our main leads are eventually introduced as survivors from a New England baseball team travelling through Connecticut just trying to survive each other...as well as the zombie outbreak happening all around them.

Ben is the catcher in the relationship (no pun intended). Usually, in a baseball battery, the catcher is sort of the one who sees the bigger picture and reacts accordingly. If you ever watch the game then you'll notice that whenever the pitcher is in a bind, the catcher is the one to run up to the mound and offer advice and guidance. So, it's only fitting that writer/director Jeremy Gardner plays Ben...the stronger lead of the two. He gives the role a believable stability and creates such an enduring character that could very well go on to be among the best seen in zombie fare of this kind. Ben is the guy that you trust in and follow in a land ravaged by flesh-hungry monsters.


Gardner is a very capable filmmaker in relation to his onscreen performance. He is able to balance his stunning performance with his equally impressive work behind the camera. Every frame takes its time and utilizes the warm scenery all around. His direction is on par with a film bigger in scale and budget and considering how The Battery  was reportedly made with a scant $6K...that, alone...is pretty goddamn amazing. Of course, it certainly helps to have a talent like Christian Stella lens the whole film.

Mickey is the pitcher in the relationship (again...no pun intended). He's the slick insecure, unstable one of the two and Adam Cronheim pretty much goes all-out in the role. He is the awkward pitching star looking for something in this apparent apocalypse to grasp onto. Whether it be the warm company of a living female...or the security of an unguarded bedroom. Crohheim plays Mickey with an awkward fragility and creates a perfect counterpart to Ben's rigidity. Both characters are great to watch onscreen in the ultimate zombie bromance.

The Battery  operates with a kind of honesty completely absent in most films of its ilk. While the story takes its time to unfold, the candid moments shared by the two leads builds into the clenched tension experienced in the third act of the film. Before you even realize it...you actually give a damn about Ben and Mickey when the shit goes down in the final moments of the film. I won't spoil anything that the film offers...but, let's just say that there's a certain bitch that will find herself on the unpleasant side of a Louisville slugger sooner or later. I'm betting sooner...rather than later.


I absolutely loved Jim Mickle's Stake Land  from a couple of years back...and this film echoes much of those same cues. It's a story where the actual threat is much more human than one would expect...especially given the circumstance. And the outcome is so heart-wrenching and genuine in both tales...you would almost feel as if the two films were soul siblings of each other. I wish there were more cinematic experiences like this.

In the way of special FX...there really isn't too much to talk about here. The gore is pretty much kept to blood spurts and off-screen kills and bites....so, the extreme gorehounds looking for Savani-esque zombie guts might be disappointed once the credits role. However, that's not to say that the lack of those particular elements do much to derail the entire picture. I rather liked the way the film never relied on gory gimmicks and in-your-face bloody fun to tell its story. It's a film deserving of your full attention for its rich storytelling and breath-taking cinematography. The tale is still a horrific one...make no mistake. It just never feels the need to over-saturate the entire journey with gore.

The Battery  is a beautiful example of great American independent horror filmmaking. It is overflowing with amazing performances and impressive in execution. It is a film that rewards its viewer with a heartfelt story rather than blood-squirting grue. In a genre landscape full of empty big budget disappointments, it is refreshing to see a film like The Battery  take you on a much deeper ride into zombie territory than what has been presented in recent years. Please...do not miss The Battery.





Thanks for reading,

bryan.




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