Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A review of "The Battery"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “The Battery”

By: Brian Cotnoir

     So a little story before I dive into this week’s review: My parents own a campground in Connecticut that I work at during the summers.  During July I ran into a camper, named Jeremy who was staying there with his girlfriend, and we struck up a conversation, and I found out that he had directed and starred in a movie that he wrote.  So obviously we had a lot to talk about: Him the filmmaker, me the internet film blogger.  He told me of the numerous awards that his film had won and the film festival that it had been shown at, and I was impressed and excited to see his film.            
Now not many film bloggers get to actually meet the directors/cast of the film before seeing them: I had the perfect opportunity to get the inside scoop on this film I could’ve asked him anything I wanted about the film, and despite this AMAZING opportunity to have the chance to ask the director any question about his film, I decided not to.  The reason why is quite simple: I had such a great time talking with him and his girlfriend about making movies and films we like that I was nervous that I would feel obligated to write a positive review just because they were so nice to me, and I wanted to be nice back.  So when he asked me if I had any questions about the film, I politely declined and said “No, I want it to be a surprise”.  The only thing Jeremy told me about the film is that the beginning of the film is a “slow burn”. So here is my honest to your God opinion on what I thought about the film “The Battery”.                      
    Now when I first saw the DVD Cover to the film, I thought I was going to be a low-budget Splatter-Film like “Sick Girl”, but I was wrong.  “The Battery” is set during a zombie-outbreak and is about two ballplayers from Pittsfield, Massachusetts named Ben and Mickey. Ben and Mickey are travelling across the back roads of Connecticut looking and hoping to find other survivors—and hopefully a few less zombies—as they attempt to survive themselves in this confusing and chaotic world.                 
Our Heroes, Ladies & Gentlemen \m/
   All right now from that description of the plot, I will admit this film doesn’t sound that interesting or appealing, but honestly it’s better than it sounds.  It’s not the scariest or the most unique zombie film, but the one thing “The Battery” has going for it, is that it is very realistic.  In fact, this is probably the most realistic zombie movie I’ve seen to date.  And I don’t mean like “oh the zombies in this film were so realistic looking, they looked like they could be actual zombies”.  I mean the plot, the dialogue, the characters all feel and sound like real events and real people.  Now in a typical zombie film you’ll have you’re bad a$$ zombie-killing hero like a Ash Williams and you’re quirky comedic-relief zombie killers like Shaun and Ed from “Shaun of the Dead”, but those aren’t real people, nothing about them is real: they’re only there to entertain us.  Now Ben & Mickey from “The Battery” are just two dudes who used to play baseball with each other who are trying to survive this zombie-outbreak together.  Any person can watch a movie and say “I want to be a bad a$$ killer zombie killer like Daryl Dixon or Tallahassee”, but that just makes them admirable, it doesn’t make them relatable.  I hate to burst peoples bubbles, but if a zombie outbreak were to happen tomorrow the world wouldn’t be filled with Daryl Dixon’s, it’d be filled with the guys like Ben and Mickey: just two regular dudes going about the business and trying not to get bitten or killed by zombies.  
Making due with what you got
Another thing that makes Ben & Mickey relatable is that they’re overwhelmingly under-armed.  Ben and Mickey (or just Ben I should say) travel across the back roads and woods of Connecticut armed only with a Louisville Slugger baseball bat and a pistol, and again I want to point out that if a zombie outbreak were to happen tomorrow, there would be more people carrying out baseball bats and small handguns as opposed to automatic machine guns and samurai swords.  I mean think about the people you know:  do you actually know anyone who is that heavily armed that could take on a horde of zombies at a moment’s notice?  My best friend has a few swords and small various blades, but I’m not sure how effective it would be defending against the undead.  Not only that, but they also rely on older technology: they don’t have cellphones that work or can communicate any one so they use battery powered walkie-talkies.  Mickey doesn’t have an Ipod to listen to music, so he uses a discman!  I can’t tell you the last time I saw a person with a discman, and he’s using one throughout the film.  The last thing I’m going to tell you that makes this film feel realistic is the dialogue.  The dialogue between Ben & Mickey in this film is feels like the two of them were just shooting the breeze and carrying on a regular conversation.  The film does not have one line of pretentious dialogue or zany one-liners (that I can remember); it all just sounds like pure and natural flowing conversation.  It’s all these little details like that make this film more believable and relatable.                              
Ben and his captured prey
Now that I’ve talked about how real Ben and Mickey appear on film, let’s take a look at their actual character traits.  Ben in the film is played by Jeremy Gardner who also wrote and directed this film.  Ben is definitely an alpha male character.  He’s not a hard-a$$ or commanding character, his demeanor is along the lines of “We’re doing what I want...because I said so”.  He acts as Mickey’s protector, doing a majority of the zombie kills in the film.  He keeps Mickey in line and is probably the only reason that Mickey has managed to survive as long as he has.  He is at time tough on Mickey.  One of my favorite moments in the film comes when Ben baits and traps a zombie and then locks him in a room with a sleeping Mickey who is forced to bludgeon the zombie to death with a baseball bat.  He does it not just as a cruel prank on his friend, but to also show him that he needs to learn how to survive.     
You're going to be okay, Mickey
Now as for Mickey, I feel he is a character that most guys would be able to relate too.  Mickey is played by actor Adam Cronheim; he isn’t the strongest, or the smartest, or the funniest character he is just a regular guy.  The world is crawling with zombies and he’s not thinking about survival or killing zombies, he just puts on his headphones and forgets about his dire situation.  Mickey is a definitely a dreamer/optimist a stark contrast from Ben’s Realist/Alpha-Male personality.  All he wants to do is sleep in a real bed in a real house and find a girl who loves him (in this zombie apocalypse), and small things like being able to brush your teeth.  Again, I can totally see Mickey as a real person during the zombie outbreak.  He refuses to kill zombies, and he isn’t looking for shelter or safety, he’s pursuing any woman, which gets him in trouble in more ways than one.  You see Mickey, is a character who thinks a lot with his penis.  In one scene he is sitting alone in the car that he and Ben are traveling in when the zombie remains of a young woman comes out of the woods and tries to attack him.  So what does Mickey do in this situation?  He doesn’t call for help, he doesn’t try to kill her, he instead pulls down his shorts and proceeds to jerk it because this zombie girl is—for him—the hottest girl he’s scene in months.  Wow...hey, I don’t mean to judge, Mickey, I understand dead girls are easy, but most guys who do that sort of thing in front of a corpse don’t have to worry about it coming back to life and trying to eat its flesh.   Mickey may be a weirdo, but he’s at least likable weirdo.                                
     Now, like all films “The Battery” does have its faults. For one thing, the first 32 minutes of the film are incredibly boring, after that it starts to get better, but again I was briefed on that beforehand, so I felt it was only right to inform you all of the same.  In the film Ben & Mickey talk to these people who live on an “Orchard”, whom we only see very briefly in the film, and we don’t know much about them other than they don’t want Ben & Mickey around.  The people at the Orchard give off the same kind of vibe as the Others from the TV show “Lost”; you don’t know much about them, but you hear about them enough, and it pisses you off that you ultimately don’t get a lot of answers to the questions you have about them.  My last problem I had with the film is that it is a film about surviving a zombie outbreak and—until the last 20-25 minutes of the film—there are very little zombie appearances.  Now, I like zombie movies because one of my favorite parts of a zombie movie is the zombie kill.  Well there’s only a handful of zombie kills in the movie, but those scenes are typically really short.  I was really hoping that I’d get to see Ben & Mickey bludgeon a few zombies with the baseball bat, but it didn’t happen as much as I prefer.  And I should point out they do address why there are so few zombies in the film: Ben & Mickey are travelling through the woods and the back roads is because there are (probably) less zombies out there: Okay, that’s smart.  Again the realism factor plays in:  The Zombie Outbreak happen are you going to run into the secluded woods or you going to hide out in a bustling urban area?      
Well that's gotta suck
So if I had to give “The Battery” a ranking I’d give a ranking of 3.5-out-of-5 stars because it has a vibe the reminiscent of “Jugface” and “Night of the Living Dead” (even though it’s stretched out over a few months and not a just one night) and the realism factor is what pushes that movie that extra half-a-star.  I would not consider “The Battery” to be a “Horror Film” as there were no points in the film where I felt scared or fearful, I would say it’s more along the lines of a Black-Comedy and whether or not the humor in this film is intentional or not, there is no denying that it will make you chuckle a few times.  So should you check out “The Battery”?  I say yes.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome review, that's phenomenal that you got to meet the cast and crew!