If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably a zombie.
In the expectation game, zombie movies (and the horror genre generally) lie somewhere near the absolute bottom in hope and promise. Low budgets and juvenilia dominate with their irritating tropes coexisting with prosthetic pseudo-ingenuity. The worst thing is that, like country music, you can't disregard the whole genre or even its low-budget disciples. The Battery (2013), from writer-director-star Jeremy Gardner, has many of the stumbles of its lowly confrères but with a charm and simplicity that uses its lack of funds to enhance the experience rather than constantly remind you of its cheapness. Pretty funny, pretty good visuals, pretty good slutty zombie, pretty good zombie movie.
Two minor league baseball players, Ben (Jeremy Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim), have found themselves together at the end of civilization--New England. Somehow they've survived the brutally cold winter and now have to face a zombie apocalypse. Luckily, this is a slow-zombie apocalypse so Ben's baseball bat, solid swing, and chill-catcher personality are very well suited to events. Mickey, a tightly-wound pitcher, is less apt, retreating into his noise-canceling headphones. There's little to do but eat canned food and walk around the beautiful countryside. In their wanderings, they find themselves a pair of walkie-talkies and come into contact with a group of survivors who do not want to be found. But she sounded so cute...
The Battery relies on Ben's charm and his ability to irritate Mickey like Oscar used to irritate Felix. They're sympathetic characters, but their distance from one another--they were never friends--is unique. The film is also 70% montages which effectively communicate that distance and their lonely post-apocalyptic existence. The dialogue and performances often feel unreal or inauthentic, punching key phrases that clashes with the feeling that we are observing their normal moments. At one point, Mickey finds some toothpaste and the pair brush their teeth with apparent satisfaction. This is what the whole movie is about and it's best quality. This is what happens when the world ends. Not with a bang, not with a whimper, but basically the same as it was before. Where the film runs into danger is when it tries to show those explosive moments with their accompanying psychological import. Still, the camerawork (Christian Stella)--on a Canon 5D(III?)--was clean and aesthetically pleasing. Maybe a bit overexposed. Can't have everything.
Audio commentary, outtake reel, featurette on the music, and a making-of featurette. The last of which will be highly encouraging to would-be filmmakers.
"The Battery" is on sale September 16, 2014 and is not rated. Horror. Written and directed by Jeremy Gardner. Starring Adam Cronheim, Jeremy Gardner.