Labelled one of the greatest zombie films in years, The Battery follows two former baseball players as they navigate their way across a zombie ravaged New England. Despite being teammates for years, the pair clash as Ben embraces his new lawless existence while Mickey craves the creature comforts of his old life. But with the hordes closing in on them, they must learn to survive each other if they are to make it out alive.
Initially, the world following a zombie holocaust (which is never really explained – they are just there, and have been for some considerable time) is almost an idyllic one; this story is set entirely in the country, where the creatures are less likely to frequent, according to Ben. He and Mickey are two young men who have been thrown together as a result of the catastrophe, and have formed a spiky, yet amusing friendship, and the lack of structure society now has allows them time to appreciate nature, to go about things at a leisurely pace. Only occasionally, when a zombie is discovered in a car they want to use, or a building they enter, do things become unpleasant – but Ben in particular, has become so casual about the creatures, he will shoot them amidst a conversation with Ben!
There are many set-pieces here that offset the horror with the darkest humour: Mickey awoken from his slumber in the car to find an ‘attractive’ young female zombie attempting to get in, and being unable to resist a round of masturbation as she rubs herself against the window – only to be shocked out of his pleasure as the woman is shot by Ben, who then disappears into the woodland howling with laughter; Ben equipping the sleeping Mickey with a baseball bat as he lies in the bedroom of a house they’ve commandeered and then pushing a zombie into the room and holding the door shut, in a bid to force his friend to overcome his aversion to killing; there is radio contact made with other survivors, but in a cruel twist, these people want nothing to do with Ben and Mickey. The final set-piece is the biggest – trapped inside an immobile van surrounded by zombies. These undead creatures are less violent than in many other films, but the fact remains their bites are deadly, and they never tire – so when hours turn into days for Ben and Mickey’s incarceration, surrounded always by rasping, moaning creatures dolefully attempting entry, it is only a matter of time before a decision has to be made (when we last see him, Ben is staggering away from the marauding masses who seem incapable of catching up with him, with begs the question – why didn’t the two men make a run for it earlier?).
Jeremy Gardner, who writes and directs, is Ben – outwardly a laconic layabout but actually a methodical thinker mentally the stronger of the two; Adam Cronheim plays Mickey, who reveals himself to be finding it more difficult to cope with what has happened and has a longing for female company – indeed, it is that longing that helps cause their downfall. The relationship between the two is the main focus of ‘The Battery’, and they hold attention throughout, whilst the zombies are deliberately kept in the background, their existence commonplace. It presents a different take on familiar backdrop and contains little in the way of blood and gore. With that in mind, it is hugely recommended viewing.