What does a movie made with $6,000 look like? In the case of 2012’s The Battery, pretty damn good. I’ve been hearing about this film for a while but it honestly took me this long to check it out because of zombie fatigue. Reviews of the film all read the same way you might feel after hearing about one more damned zombie film. However, the sheer amount of times it was recommended to me ultimately led me to cave in and give it a shot. Being that we’re on season 100 of The Walking Dead can we just shoot this genre in the head — or kill it in some other grotesque way — once and for all?
I agree, I truly do, but Jeremy Gardner’s directorial debut, starring Jeremy Gardner and written by, you guessed it, Jeremy Gardner, is a truly great subversion of the genre. The film focuses on two characters, Ben (Jeremy Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim), and their efforts to survive a zombie outbreak. The main thrust of the movie is that Mickey wants to stay in the house and Ben feels like that leaves them open to attack (not to mention the possibility of being stuck in said house without food for a long period of time).
Without showing it, the two characters discuss when that happened previously, and the dialogue brings it up multiple times throughout the 101-minute runtime. The movie focuses heavily on what’s happening and what’s happened between the two characters on the screen, rather than the zombies in the woods. Refreshing, yes.
What this film excels in is what it doesn’t show. We don’t need flashbacks and we don’t need a ton of zombies. When we do get a glimpse of the undead, they’re done very well considering the micro-budget. The movie is beautifully shot, directed and acted between the two actors. The climax brings in a couple more characters, but they only serve to push the story along with Ben and Mickey.
If I have one gripe, it’s my usual gripe with horror: the 101 minute runtime. Most movies should never go over the 90-minute mark, but I’ll grant a little forgiveness with 11 extra minutes this time. The Battery plays on a very simple premise and I don’t want to give too much away in terms of plot, although I’ll discuss it with you until your ears bleed after you see it.
Given its simplicity there’s also not a lot more to discuss, so I want to take a minute to introduce you into other zombie films that will have you convinced the genre has raised from the dead.
Train to Busan (2016) – South Korean horror will rarely let you down and this is no exception. The true strength of the movie is the relationship between father and daughter.
Night of the Comet (1984) – This is about as ’80s Los Angeles as it gets. The mood is just right. I’d give this B-movie a B+. Joss Whedon says Night of the Comet led him to create Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so there’s that!
Night of the Creeps (1986) – Tom Atkins stars in this zombie/slasher/alien invasion cult classic and Fred Dekker (Monster Squad) directs. Need I say more?
Rec (2007) – A Spanish found footage film that centers around a reporter trapped in an apartment complex that’s been quarantined thanks to a zombie outbreak. The movie was remade into a U.S. film named Quarantine, which is fine, but watch this one first.