Why The Battery may be one of the best Zombie films ever made
Updated: Jun 13, 2019
There are plenty of zombie films out there, so many in fact that the subgenre feels rather stale, with originality often being scarce. In a world where zombie movies stumble around, uniform, identikit cut outs, stomping around the malls… There are few that actually stand out in this shambling crowd, but today I wanted to talk to you about The Battery from 2012.
I first encountered The Battery at a Zombie Convention in Leicester. Before the film started, the host gave it the best possible description I can think of. He said: “It’s a film about being stuck in the zombie apocalypse with a twat”. It’s a fair assessment of the surface of this film, but there is a lot more to it than that. It’s a super-low budget indie flick that, for me, encapsulates what the genre should be about.
If you haven’t seen it yet, I would strongly recommend it - it’s amongst the best zombie films that i’ve seen. Here’s -spoiler free- why you should watch it:
We start right in on the action
I’m sick of zombie films where we start out as if it’s any other day, then we all pretend we don’t know what zombies are, like there haven’t been a trillion other films that let you know. You don’t have to worry about that with The Battery - we start right in the action with two baseball players in the wilderness during the zombie apocalypse.
It has the right amount of funny
The Battery doesn’t take itself too seriously, nor does it take itself too un-seriously either. It strides down the happy middle ground between the two. There are a full spectrum of emotions to see in the film, and it covers them all skillfully. There’s one scene to note in particular when Mickey (Adam Cronheim), is alone in the stylish Volvo estate, and a lone female zombie attempts to break in. He decides to use this opportunity.... Constructively… as you’ll see if you decide to watch it. The horror in the film crops up at exactly the right moments, as does the drama, as does the comedy.
It uses its low budget beautifully
I’ve written about low budget films before, and how it’s not necessarily a hamstring if used the correct way. Some low budget films far over stretch themselves in terms of visuals at the cost of story - a blockbuster formula that simply doesn’t scale down. A low budget film in my opinion should be all about the story. Make me care about the characters. Important locations should be limited, and they should be just that - important. Whilst Reservoir Dogs’ $1.2 million budget cannot be compared to the $6,000 of The Battery, they are both examples of low budget films understanding the power of space, and how it can be used to push a story forward.
The characters are compelling
As with any other film, but particularly low budget ones, character is everything. I need to care about who i’m watching so that, when something happens to them, I feel something - be it good or bad. The Battery does this really well, and despite being a bit of a twat, I care what happens to Ben, and what happens to Mickey. They’re relatable characters, thrown into a world where the usual social rules have broken down. They fill two sides of the same coin, Ben has adjusted to the setting a lot more than Mickey has, who drowns out the sound of the zombie apocalypse with his portable CD player. But the main thing that makes me like both of the main characters is how we can relate to individual parts from each of their personalities.
Claustrophobia and time
As I alluded to above, location and space is important in a low budget film, and this, in regards to horror films particularly, gives an opportunity to use claustrophobia as a tool. In the same way the A Streetcar Named Desire used the single room in New Orleans, along with the humidity to vastly increase the sense of tension throughout the play, horror films can use this to up the tension more than a revolving door of stages can muster. The Battery largely focuses on a car, and whilst the Volvo is large by car standards - large enough to have a bed in the back - it’s still incredibly close quarters when the zombie horde are involved.
If you're interested in checking out The Battery, you can get it from the Amazon link below to help support the blog!
Have you seen the Battery? What was your opinion of it? Let me know!