Written & Directed by Jeremy Gardner
Starring: Jeremy Gardner, Adam Cronheim, Niels Bolle
The personalities of two former baseball players clash as they traverse the rural back roads of a post-plague New England teeming with the undead.
Despite the monolithic World War Z claiming the #1 box office spot again this weekend, there was another zombie film making itself known to horror fans one glowing review at a time. Jeremy Gardner’s stripped-down tale of zombies, baseball, and relationships, The Battery, shambled into living rooms across America. I was scrolling through Amazon’s VOD options this weekend, looking for something new to watch, and found this quiet gem shining between big budget blockbuster films.
The Battery is presumably set in the present after a large-scale pandemic throttles New England. Two baseball players, a starting catcher named, Ben (Jeremy Gardner), and an emotionally frail bench warmer, Mickey (Adam Cronheim), make their way across the back-roads of Connecticut, adapting to the new, life-altering circumstance that’s decimated the country. Filmed for $6000, this take on the zombie genre realizes, much like The Walking Dead (which gets a shout-out), that while the undead are a great backdrop, the emphasis is on the living. Less inclined to deliver a one-dimensional, gore-soaked knockoff, Gardner instead explores the mundane, the realistic, the palpable day-to-day tension building between two men unceremoniously thrust into survival mode. Raw and emotionally powerful, The Battery, does more for a mere six grand than most films can do for six million.
Mickey carries around a plastic baggie filled with batteries. The bulk of these power his Walkman, a crutch of escapism the character couldn’t have done without. Ben enjoys the headphones as well, treating the viewer to one of the must human and touching scenes of the film as he drunkenly dances to Rock Plaza Central’s ‘Anthem for the Already Defeated’. While Mickey would have been lost without his music, Ben might have been at a loss with no company. The two men become deeply connected through their love of baseball, and with the world slowing down, they find several opportunities to play catch. Including the “saddest game of catch ever”, as Ben puts it. I can’t say enough about the skill used in crafting these two characters that still manage to stay polar opposites even in the perceived apocalypse.
The icing on the cake is Christian Stella’s stunning cinematography. The country roads of America have never looked so humid and nostalgic in a genre piece as they do here. Kudos to Gardner for creating a zombie wasteland that feels so human and real. Gardner is one guy I’ll be paying attention to in the future. The Battery is as good as it gets.