|The Battery (2013)|
Reviewed by Dustin Putman
(Release Date: September 16, 2014) Two minor league ballplayers, Ben (Jeremy Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim), travel across the desolate Connecticut countryside as the last-known survivors of a zombie apocalypse. When Mickey picks up the reception of strangers on his walkie-talkie, he becomes determined to find them even as it grows evident they don't want to be located. "The Battery" hasn't much more story than this, and yet promising writer-director-actor Jeremy Gardner has achieved quite a feata blending of horror and slice-of-life character studyon a shoestring budget of approximately $6,000. When money is scarce and resources are limited, Gardner is here to show how much can be achieved when there is passion (and a natural filmmaker's eye) behind a quality script.
The threat posed by the cannibalistic undeadif bitten, a living being might as well sign their own death warrantis very much a day-to-day reality for Ben and Mickey. As they travel around taking shelter where they can while keeping track of food rations, they think back on the lives they once ledlives that are forever no more. Without any other form of communication beyond their walkie-talkie, they can only assume their families across the country have perished in the outbreak. Meanwhile, a dwindling supply of batteries for Mickey's Walkman helps to keep him clinging to the world as it once was.
The zombies are window dressing for the real story "The Battery" tells, the one about two friends coming to grips with the end of daysand not doing the best job of it. It is their drive to fight for survival and to cling to their humanity, however, that is the film's universal take-away. Increasingly claustrophobic and steadfastly relying upon the naturalistic chemistry between lead actors Jeremy Gardner and Adam Cronheim, the film builds in tension while commanding attention for its technical competence and nuanced interpersonal observations. When the ending arrives, it is not as satisfying as what has come before it, leaving a lot of "what if...?" and "why didn't they...?" questions in its wake. Nevertheless, "The Battery" is so expertly made that it puts to shame countless movies each yearnay, each weekmounted on budgets that are hundreds, even thousands, of times bigger than this one.
"The Battery" is a darkly imagined picture visually with hints of definite desaturation, but it is striking all the same in this exceptionally resolved 1080p transfer. The film was shot with the Canon 4D Mark II digital camera and while there are minor technical issuesa few instances of aliasing, for examplethey pop up infrequently. Otherwise, this is a sharp image that does full justice to its source material. For a movie that relies mostly on dialogue and characters, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is all about the ambience, the sounds of the undead wrapping around the surround channels in the third act particularly effective. A 2.0 track is also included.
- Audio Commentary with writer/director/actor Jeremy Gardner, producer/actor Adam Cronheim and director of photography Christian Stella
- "Tools of Ignorance: The Making of The Battery" (1:29:20, HD) - an outstanding feature-length documentary that should be an inspiration for anyone with minimal resources and a passion for moviemaking
- "Rock Plaza Central at The Parlor" Featurette (10:48, HD)
- Outtakes (11:37, HD)
- Trailer (1:59, HD)
"The Battery" captured enough notice during its VOD premiere in 2013 that Scream Factory was wise enough to step up and agree to give it proper home video distribution. Their Blu-ray release is primo, full of excellent, expansive bonus content and a great high-def A/V showcase. "The Battery" is an unclassifiable film that doesn't fall into a singular genre box but is certain to please horror buffs and supporters of independent cinema alike. If you fall into either or both of these categories, do not hesitate to pick it up.