Written and directed by Jeremy Gardner, who also stars in the film alongside Adam Cronheim, The Battery is a fantastic, unique entry in the overcrowded zombie movie subgenre. Of course, I don’t mind the genre being overcrowded because I’m a huge fan of zombie movies, but it’s still great when you discover something so fresh and enjoyable.
Made for about $6,000, this is a perfect example of how movies done on such a low budget shouldn’t always use that as an excuse. In fact, it came as little surprise to anyone attending Dead By Dawn 2013 when the guys picked up the audience award for best feature. Gardner, Cronheim and Christian Stella were in attendance for pretty much the whole festival and you couldn’t have asked for wittier, friendlier, lovelier guests. They even put up with me trying to bend their ears whenever possible and get across just how much I loved the film.
Did I mention that I loved the film? It’s the story of two men who used to play together in a baseball team – the battery is a term for the catcher-pitcher combination in a baseball team – but now wander through a world that’s pretty lonely and dangerous. Zombies are the biggest danger, but there’s also a lot of tension that stems from the fact that these two men aren’t really close friends. Ben (Gardner) will go to some dangerous lengths to keep pushing Mickey (Cronheim) into killing his first zombie, for example, while Mickey will risk the meagre set-up that they have for the chance of contact with other survivors.
I’m not even going to do The Battery the disservice of praising it to the skies and then ending every paragraph with “for a $6,000 movie”. Once the film sucks you in and keeps you entertained the low budget isn’t noticeable. It’s not a great low-budget movie. It’s a GREAT movie, period.
The script is witty, sometimes shocking and features at least one scene that I guarantee is something you’ve never seen before, the acting from Gardner and Cronheim is superb (there are some others onscreen, but this is essentially the Gardner-Cronheim show) and there are a number of fun references for movie fans. And fans of mice (the names of four main characters, apparently, all come from famous mice). There’s one scene near the very end of the movie that doesn’t have a hell of a lot happening but holds the viewer in place with one beleaguered character for about eleven minutes. Some people watching the film might view that moment as a hell of a test. I didn’t even care. The guys making the film had earned my patience by then.
The whole film is a treat, but I cannot end this review without mentioning the moment that was, for me, one of the best cinematic moments I’ve seen so far this year. The soundtrack to this movie is great. In fact, it’s fantastic, and one musical moment kicks more ass than an epileptic donkey in amongst a herd of his friends at some demented, strobe-lit, donkey disco. Indeed, it made me so deliriously happy while it was on that I walked home trying to think of a phrase that would do it justice. And I came up with that one.
These people deserve to make money and keep making movies. They most certainly deserved the warm reception that they, and the movie, received in Edinburgh. You deserve to pick this up on DVD/Bluray when it hits store shelves within the next few months.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: JEREMY GARDNER
STARS: JEREMY GARDNER, ADAM CRONHEIM, NIELS BOLLE, ALANA O’BRIEN, JAMIE PANTANELLA, LARRY FESSENDEN, KELLY MCQUADE
RUNTIME: 101 MINS APPROX