CELLULOID SCREAMS – Review: The Battery
A personal favourite, The Battery is a buddy comedy wrapped up in a zombie setting. We follow the journey of two guys who were only acquaintances prior to the apocalypse but get on well enough now to travel together despite their huge personality differences.
We meet Ben, the outspoken comic relief and Mickey, the introverted romantic who uses music to escape the harsh reality with which he is faced. They are constantly on the move to keep out of danger (much to Mickey’s distaste), so when Mickey’s walkie-talkie picks up that there are other people out there that seem to have it made so much so that they’re watching films, he can’t help but focus all his energy into trying to get the group to accept him and Ben despite being told endlessly they’re not welcome. When he finally does meet the mystery girl behind the walkie-talkie it goes disastrously wrong and ends up being the reason he and Ben are left in a compromising position in the last chunk of the film. They get trapped in their car with no keys surrounded by relentless undead and this gives us the best final scene of a zombie film witnessed in years. They get rat-arsed and their friendship finally becomes fully cemented, then Mickey decides to go outside to try and locate the keys. The tension built is nail-bitingly high because we witness the excursion from Ben’s position in the car and in real-time. The ending does not disappoint and you can’t help but be impressed by its surprising and simple poignancy.
Ben is played by Jeremy Gardner and his character is without a doubt a major part of why the film is so successful. He also wrote and directed the feature suggesting this is a name we ought to remember and expect even greater things from in the future. This is his first big project and the level it is at is outstanding, especially when you learn that it was made for a measly $7000. The only way you can tell it is low budget is because of the low-quality zombies, but if you’re focusing on that then you’re missing the point. Shaun of the Dead is enjoyable because of the plot and the humour, not because of the zombies. The exact same thing is true of The Battery, except it does well without any hefty financial backing.
Another huge part of the film’s triumph is the honesty between Mickey and Ben. They act how real people act, and treat each other as real friends would in such a situation. Their exchanges are hilarious and their on-screen friendship outdoes any mainstream buddy relationships around. This shows how strong Gardner’s writing is and highlights the importance of good writing in a film if it wants to stand out from the crowd without expending all its efforts into special effects and big Hollywood names. The soundtrack is pretty catchy too and this seems to be just one of those films you find yourself recommending to everyone you know.