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Review: 'The Battery' is a film with a lot of half-eaten heart Special

By Sylvannia Soulet     Apr 24, 2014 in Entertainment
"The Battery" is the perfect film for those that want zombie movie conventions without all the cheap jump scares and gore.
Let it be known that of all the genres of film, horror ranks among my least favorite — nestled firmly at the bottom of my list and wrestling with the likes of the musical and the political thriller. It’s not a fault in the art form but a defect in my own wiring: my body literally cannot handle horror, rejecting it physically like a person allergic to penicillin.
So when I was afforded the chance to see The Battery last night as part of Cineplex’s 2014 Sinister Cinema series, you’ll have to forgive me for being a little more than reluctant to go see it. In the end I took the plunge for the simple fact that the movie was in that narrow subgenre of horror that I actually enjoy: the zombie thriller.
Make no mistake; I’m not one to clamour voraciously for the next Dawn of the Dead iteration — a diehard Walking Dead binge watcher fan I most certainly am not. But occasionally I like to imbibe in a good ol’ zombie flick. I guess in the end I’m a bit of sadist; I'll watch a zombie movie, even if I end up suffering like someone who downs a gallon of ice cream, knowing full well that I have a severe lactose intolerance. In fact, one of my favorite films happens to be the rom-zom-com Simon Pegg vehicle, Shaun of the Dead.
The Battery is a film that similarly skirts that line between horror and dark comedy. The story involves the pair Ben and Mickey, two baseball players on the same team, who are on what appears to be a never-ending road trip, book-ended with the occasional zombie attack. Early on into the movie it is apparent that Ben (played by writer/director/producer Jeremy Gardner) is the brains of the operation, usually being held responsible for dispatching any of the undead they encounter and looking very much like a younger, more cynical (but just as hairy) Zack Galifinakis. Mickey, on the other hand, is a whiny, wiry thing of a man — basically a sidekick — with all the entitlement and pent-up sexual frustrations of a high school freshman. Based on their differing personalities one could easily question how the two managed to strike up a friendship, but it’s quite obvious they depend on each other out of sheer necessity. Along the way they come across other survivors, but they only serve to illustrate that lumbering corpses and starvation are not the only threats with which they should be concerned.
As far as zombie movies go, this one is rather tame. If you’re expecting a non-stop bloodbath of hoardes of undead being taken down, then you’ll be sorely disappointed (in fact, the majority of kills take place offscreen; either they are not shown or are simply conducted out of the audience’s view.) No, this is a story that centres around Ben and Mickey’s tenuous relationship, one moment showing the pair chucking a baseball back and forth like old chums, the next moment showing Mickey wailing on Ben for enacting some pretty brutal tough love. The Battery does a great job at setting up and establishing these characters, and showing which of the two is resourceful and which one merely seems to waste resources.
The acting, however, leaves a lot to be desired, and while the main two do a serviceable job, the performances from some of the other cast is a little wooden and a whole lot campy, almost to the point of laughable. There are also several long shots in the vein of Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men and Gravity which work most of the time but may turn off some viewers, as well as some montage-heavy moments that seem to pad out the story.
One of the The Battery's highlights, surprisingly, stem from its score. The music hits the appropriate cues when it needs to be suspenseful in high-tense moments; indie songs are chosen for the montages and whenever the characters try to drown out the hopelessness of their situation by donning a pair of the movies ubiquitous battery-guzzling headphones. If this movie released a soundtrack album I would seriously consider purchasing it.
All in all, while this isn’t a perfect film, it hits a lot of the right notes and never feels dull. As someone who doesn’t care for movies that thrive on endless gore and torture porn, I felt perfectly satisfied with The Battery. However, those searching for a slash fest, or a psychological horror that will keep the up at night, you might want to scavenge elsewhere.
Sinister Cinema is a series presented by Cineplex featuring independent horror-themed fims.
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