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Review: The Battery

The grass is looking good, the skies are blue -- it's a perfect day for a game of ball. Usually the bullpen would be warming up at this point and the battery (the pitcher and the catcher) would be working together to ensure a win for their team; unfortunately for Ben and Mickey, there's no one else playing. It's just these two former ball players against the world, surviving against the zombie plague that has taken over the world. It's no surprise that the boys managed to hit it out of the park; The Battery was the film I looked forward to seeing at this year's Toronto After Dark more than any other and it did not disappoint. The audience agreed with my own enjoyment, as The Battery did win the series taking home the audience choice award and for good reason, it's got compelling characters, is supurbly written, and it's one of the most grounded zombie films that really focuses on the human stories that I've ever seen. Fuck you, Walking Dead.

Two disparate people, Ben (played by the film's writer and director Jeremy Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim, who's best when he's sitting quietly contemplating the life he now lives) really only have two things in common: survival and baseball. As the tagline for the film states, "in a world ravaged by the undead, Ben and Mickey must learn to survive... each other." The hardships that they face, they face together and everything is made that much harder because they don't quite see eye to eye on most anything. Ben is living in this world, surviving as best he can by being in it. He doesn't shave or worry about his hair like Mickey, who still gels his do even though they never see anyone that isn't decomposing. Just like everyone and their cell phones, Mickey disassociates himself from the world by wearing headphones as much as possible and listening to any tunes he can find. Of course anyone with half a brain would realize that this isn't the smartest thing to do in a zombie apocalypse, just as Ben does, but Mickey persists; he wants to sleep in a house, stay in one place and try to hold it, unlike Ben who thinks it's safer to stay on the move; Mickey even refuses to kill and Ben takes care of the problems doing what needs to be done to survive; Mickey is hopeful that things can go back to the way things were before the undead walked the earth, and Ben seems to think that things are what they are and that dreaming things will change is not a good way to live.

Living. It's not just breathing and not getting eaten. Well for Ben and Mickey it is, but for the rest of us we can dream and enjoy the dreams of others. Good thing, too, because Jeremy Gardner has really created something special with The Battery. It's not just the story and how Ben and Mickey interact with one another, as interesting as their journey is. The writing is good, the acting solid, and the soundtrack is one of the best I've heard in any zombie film - soundtrack, not score. There's some great indie rock bands I'd never even heard of that pepper the film and work perfectly to set the mood, bands like: Rock Plaza Central, The Parlor, Wise Blood, and more. The music is placed into the film well in that it seems like the boys are listening to a tune whenever we hear something playing; the film has a real grounded feel that works to it's advantage as a result. It also helps that the zombies never seem out of place or hokey, and the way it all plays out brings to mind Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men.

It seems strange to me that it's taken so long for a zombie film to come that is so real, so human. Most might not even consider The Battery a horror movie, considering how it's really about the relationship between two men that need one another to survive and how difficult that is when two people have such different world views -- only sharing a love of a game.

 


Comments
November 17, 2013 9:57:18pm
Guest: John Kirk
Definitely a must to check out! Thanks!
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