The Battery (2012)
A couple of months after most people have turned into the walking dead, we follow a pair of survivors as they travel through the eerily quiet New England countryside. Ben and Mickey are both baseball players, but they have little else in common. Now, forced to stick together for survival, with building pressure from the zombie threat and their increasingly limited resources, tensions build between them. They might be able to survive the living dead. But will they survive each other?
Written, directed by, and starring Jeremy Gardner, The Battery was produced on a budget of just $6,000. It demonstrates that a well produced film really can be successfully created on a shoestring. And it doesn't have to end up looking like a cheap home movie.
Ben has a 'wild man' look about him, and has adapted well to a survival lifestyle. By contrast, Mickey is well-groomed, and pines for the familiar comforts of a house, a bed, and female company. Naturally their contrasting personalities cause friction in their relationship. And it's that relationship the film is interested in. Not jump scares. And not the lurid blood and gore of zombie attacks.
This is effectively a road movie, like The Road or Stake Land, but with more focus on the humanity element. Its a slow burn, with long scenes where there is little or no dialogue or action. But far from being boring, it allows the audience to understand and feel what the central characters are going through. A long section of the film takes place in the back of a Volvo estate car, while the undead surround it over several days, incessantly banging on the windows. You can really feel the claustrophobia, the increasing sense of hopelessness, and you can smell the ripe, sweaty angst. It feels that real.
The soundtrack is strong and unusual, featuring accoustic songs. And while it's certainly not a comedy, it does have a dry sense of humour in places. I also spotted references to Tremors, Jaws and The Great Escape. If you judge a zombie movie merely on its gore or its non-stop action, you might miss the subtle intelligence of this film and find it a bit slow. I see it as a refreshing take on the well-worn sub-genre. It's thought-provoking, with interesting writing, cinematography, and impressive performances from the leads. A great achievement - and even more so when done on a tiny budget with such a small cast and crew.