Review: Jeremy Gardner’s ‘The Battery’
June 27, 2015
[Image courtesy of teneohorror.co.uk]
Actor Jeremy Gardner made his directorial debut with American horror film ‘The Battery’ in 2012, and has subsequently gone on to direct ‘Spring’ (2014) and ‘Tex Montana Will Survive!’ (2015). Whilst ‘The Battery’ is predominantly a zombie/horror film, don’t lose interest yet! Yes, the zombie film genre might be tired and oversaturated, but this film proves much can still be achieved within it. The plot is as follows: two characters, Ben and Mickey, are doing their best to cope in a post-apocalyptic New England, going from one crisis to the next. Throughout the course of the film their characters and relationships are revealed, building up to a pivotal ending which provides one of the characters with a genuine purpose that extends beyond survival.
Being English, I was oblivious to the fact that ‘battery’ is actually a term used in American baseball. However, having watched the film, it strikes me that baseball is actually fundamental to its very ethos. As several other sports are, baseball is reliant on teamwork and building relationships; ‘The Battery’ is very much about how men relate to each other. Within the film baseball connects them to each other as men as well as team mates, eliciting feelings of nostalgia amongst them as it reminds them of their childhoods.
[Image courtesy of liveforfilms.com]
Ben and Mickey act like brothers, constantly bickering and falling out over very, very petty things. Yet, it is obvious that deep down they actually care for each other, albeit in different ways. Ben is presented as a realist, embracing the situation they are in and perhaps even preferring it to his past life. On the other hand, Mickey is a romantic who hates the hardship and searches for any kind of escape to cling on to.
Both characters are instantly likeable, but as the film progresses their actions make you question whether you should like them at all; Ben tries to ‘pop’ Mickey’s zombie virginity by trapping a zombie and locking it in Mickey’s room to see who survives. Then, later on in the film, he kills a perfectly healthy man as he attempts to steal his car, threatening Mickey’s life in the process. However, it is Mickey who commits the most disturbing and perverse act…little can be discussed without revealing too much!
[Image courtesy of posterapocalypse.com]
The visual landscape of the film is largely green, the terrain depicted evoking thoughts of a sort-of abandoned Garden of Eden. The cinematic influences that come to mind are the films of Richard Linklater, Sergio Leone, George Romero, and Frank Darabonts, the excellent ‘Walking Dead’ series, as well as a hint of the French New wave. There are also subtle influences that can be traced back to ‘Shaun of the Dead’, seen through the way neither of the characters actually say the word zombie.
The direction stresses realism, whilst adding enough cinematic touches to ensure excitement and avoid boredom. All of the performances are solid, but it is Jeremy Gardner that really stands out for me. Throughout the film he manages to exude a mixture of charisma and a devil-may-care attitude that reminded me slightly of Eric Bana in ‘Chopper’ (seek it out if you haven’t seen it). The budget is low, but they make it into a positive rather than let it hamper their ambitions.
[Image courtesy of lucogygiwa.sourceforge.net]
There is a lot of blood, but no gore (I know I’ve probably lost a lot of people there!). However, if you like character and plot, you really need to check this out, even if you don’t like horror films. Following the strengths of this film, I would definitely recommend Jeremy Gardner as a filmmaker to keep a close eye on in the future…
Check out the trailer here
By Alan Berry