I am little hesitant to call The Battery one of the best zombie films to be released in years for a few reasons. I will be the first to admit that, while having watched my fair share of films about the undead, I do not claim to be an aficionado on the subject. I have no stake in the fast zombie versus slow zombie debate. Plus I fear the mere classification of it as solely a zombie film may distract others from the fact The Battery is a great film in general.
In many ways The Battery is my kind of film. It is a film that is more interested in its characters than adhering to the tropes of the genre. The fact that the main characters even refuse to say the “Z word” until halfway through the film should tell you all you need to know. The zombies are nothing more than window dressing, literally in some moments, in the film. Director Jeremy Gardner is more interested in exploring the nuances that come when two vastly different individuals are forced to rely on each other in dire circumstances.
Jeremy Gardner does not provide any insight into what lead the world to be in its current state. There are no epic speeches about viruses or plagues or other jargon you would expect from this type of film. Instead he drops the audience right into the middle of the situation that Ben (played by Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim) find themselves in. Striving to stay alive in a world overrun by the undead, the pair spend their days roaming from location to location searching for food and shelter. Though bound by the fact that they are both former baseball players, and have no one else to rely on, the two could not be more different. Mickey, the pacifist of the duo, dreams of finding a place free from zombies and full of human interaction. Whereas Ben, the more practical one, expresses his anger at the state of the world through his need to kill every zombie they encounter.
Unlike most zombie films, The Battery takes a more melancholy approach to its exploration into human survival. Gardner highlights the isolation, anger, fear, and even the sexual frustration that the men feel at various points in their journey. One of The Battery’s biggest strengths is its overall restraint. The film never feels the need to rush any of its sequences or throw in senseless action sequence just to maintain the viewer’s interest. Gardner manages to evoke tension in the film by merely showing his characters trapped in a car over the course of several days.
Expertly shot, and methodically constructed, The Battery offers a wonderfully fresh take on a genre in need of new blood. It is a brilliant directorial debut that solidifies Gardner as a talent to watch. Filled with emotion and originality, The Battery is not only one of the best zombie films in recent years, but also a great film that should not be missed.