The Battery

US | 2012 | Directed by Jeremy Gardner

Logline: Two bickering friends travel across the country back roads from abandoned house to derelict house trying to keep one step ahead of the zombies.

Gardner’s debut feature is the itch he loved to scratch. He wrote the screenplay, co-produced it, and is one of the two lead actors. Apparently the budget was $US6 grand and shot in just fifteen days in Connecticut. Now that’s guerrilla filmmaking. It’s somehow fitting that the concept is a zombie apocalypse, but not the usual horde vs. anti-hero antics.

Ben (Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim) are former baseball players, now survivalists. They spend their time slowly and surely making their way across New England, encountering the living dead from time to time, playing ball to pass the time, and making idle chat and pseudo-argumentative conversation. The movie’s title refers to the collective baseball term for the pitcher and the catcher. And it is this to-ing and fro-ing that keeps The Battery’s languid momentum swaying.

Mickey prefers to have his headphones on, the music taking his mind off the inherent doom of their situation. Ben is more proactive, instigating the use of walkie-talkies, and unwittingly sowing the seeds of further doom. The two young men find themselves at the wrong end of the stick when Annie (Alana O’Brien) and her companion Egghead confront them on a lonely stretch of road.

If Kevin Smith had decided to make a zombie movie, it might’ve turned out something like The Battery, except The Battery isn’t nearly as self-conscious as a Kevin Smith flick. But the real problem with Gardner’s feature is exactly that, it’s a feature. It’s really a short film that’s been padded out extensively. A fifteen-twenty minute running time would’ve been perfect.

The whole last ten minutes or so reminded me of the superb Kiwi zombie short, Zombie Movie (2005). Solid performances, a backbone of comic blackness, and an unpretentious, but striking visual style keep The Battery from being struck out; it’s the slacker flick for zombieheads.

The Battery is distributed in Australia by Accent Film Entertainment.