In the interest of full disclosure, I wasn’t enthralled at the prospect of sitting down and investing my time in yet another film that dealt with zombies. I figured the first several minutes would provide an exposition of how earth was plunged into the abyss, and the reason for the calamity that turned the majority of the world’s populace into undead, flesh eaters. Additionally, I thought the explanation would be accompanied by clips from both real and faux news footage, or that the movie would be yet another entry into the increasingly tiresome found footage genre. Much to my surprise and pleasure, none of what I just mentioned was presented in “The Battery.” While it is true, that in the film, a zombie apocalypse has transpired, the normally front and center members of the living dead, are for the most part, relegated to the status of background players. Instead, at the heart of the film, is the relationship between survivors Ben (Jeremy Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim).
Ben and Mickey, are former minor league baseball players. Mickey was a pitcher and Ben a catcher, which in old fashioned baseball parlance is referred to as ‘the battery.’ The heavily bearded Ben, for all intents and purposes, is the pragmatist and leader of the duo. He doesn’t feel comfortable staying in one place for very long, and uses his baseball bat as a weapon to take out the zombies, and seems to have accepted the fact that fishing, hunting, and scavenging is the way he must live from now on. Conversely, Mickey refuses to kill, and chooses to get lost in the music he frequently listens to on his headphones. He yearns for his girlfriend (he doesn’t know whether she is alive or dead) and seems to want nothing more than to sleep for one evening indoors in a bed, as opposed to on a rooftop, which is something Ben insists on because the zombies can’t reach them up there. During one scene, Mickey even gets excited when he scratches off a lottery ticket that reveals he has won a thousand dollars; as if there is anywhere left to claim his cash prize. The personalities of the two main protagonists are made clear to the viewer, as they make their way across the back roads and forests of New England, with no clear cut destination in mind.
One day, they hear the voices of a man and woman talking on one of the channels of their walkie-talkies. Frank (Larry Fessenden) and Annie (Alana O’Brien) speak of a place called ‘The Orchard.’ Desperate to talk with them, and find out if the place they speak of is safe from the zombies, Mickey implores them to tell him and Ben where they are. His request is denied. Not only is he told by Frank to stay off that channel on the walkie-talkie, but that he is not welcome at ‘The Orchard.’ Annie also lets Mickey know that ‘The Orchard’ is not what he thinks it is. From that moment forward, Mickey can’t drop the matter. He keeps attempting to make contact with Annie on the walkie-talkie in an effort to convince her that he and Ben could be an asset to whatever safe-haven that she and Frank are a part of.
Will Ben and Mickey ignore the warning given to them by Frank and Annie and try and find ‘The Orchard’? What exactly is ‘The Orchard’? Is Annie telling the truth when she told Mickey that it is not what he thinks it is? Do Ben and Mickey meet other survivors during their travels? Will they eventually fall victim to the hordes of undead roaming the United States?
“The Battery” was written by Jeremy Gardner, and also marks his directorial debut. The film won the Audience Award for Best Feature Film at the “Toronto After Dark Film Festival.” Additionally, Gardner won the award for Best Screenplay, and both the music from the film, and the poster, won special awards. The movie premiered on October 13, 2012 at the “Telluride Horror Show Film Festival.” The runtime of the film is 101 minutes, and is a blending of the genres of adventure, drama and horror. Made for a budget of approximately $6,000, which the director raised by asking ten friends to contribute $600 each, the movie was shot in sixteen days.
My one and only complaint about the film is its runtime. There were certain scenes that could have been shortened or eliminated all together, that would have served to help the film move along at a more fluid pace. With that being said, I found the movie to be a refreshing take on a subgenre of horror that has become overly saturated in recent years.