The Battery isn't so much a horror movie as it is a zombie-themed art-house indie road movie. And by the way, that's a good thing. I imagine most of you are pretty burned out on zombies, and I'm with you on that. Remember the good old days when Romero's Dawn of the Dead was the end-all, be-all of zombie films and only you and your horror nerd friends had actually watched it? Twenty years after it was made, it was still edgy and fairly underground. These days you can't walk into the kids' department at K-Mart without tripping over a box of cutesified zombie jammies. Also, remember K-Mart. I'm old.
The point of this rambling zombie nostalgia is that after the bombast and spectacle of the multi-million dollar zombie flick World War Z, a small, intimate zombie movie like The Battery is the only thing that can bring this genre back from the dead. The Battery is essentially a 2-man show. Ben and Mickey live in the now too familiar post-zombie-apocalypse America, wandering through the woods and looting houses to get by. The film's title, by the way, does not refer to a car battery, as I was certain would be the case. It is actually a baseball term I was unfamiliar with, meaning the catcher and the pitcher, which is exactly what Ben and Mickey were, pre-ZA. Aside from the fact they were on the same baseball team, the two have little in common and have vastly different coping strategies for dealing with the new world order. Ben embraces the brutal, nomadic lifestyle of this new world, relishing the freedom it affords. Mickey wants nothing more than to hole up in a house or find some other trace of civilization.
The zombie action is kept to a minimum, with the focal point of the film being the relationship between the two leads. If you like your horror films fast and ferocious, The Battery may put you to sleep. What the film does instead is to simulate the feeling of what life would be like after most of the population is dead or zombified. In a word: boredom. Director (and the dude who plays Ben) Jeremy Gardner isn't afraid of long, lingering shots in which very little happens. The movie opens with a full two minutes of Mickey smoking and changing the batteries in his Discman. There's also a toothbrushing scene that goes on well over a minute. Writing this, it sounds awful. But within the context of the movie, it works. Just be warned that The Battery requires a high tolerance for art-house pacing.
While the movie is slow, the interaction between the two leads is highly entertaining and often hilarious. Ben's kind of an asshole, but not the worst person to be stuck with. And that's kind of the point of the movie. Two guys who don't really like each other that much come to depend on one another and eventually form a bond deeper than either is aware of. Plus Mickey masturbates to zomboobies! Just thought I'd throw that in there.
I won't spoil any more of what happens, but I do need to mention the greatness of the music. I'm so pissed that there's no soundtrack available, because every song that plays in the movie is pure gold. No wonder Mickey's got headphones on all the time.
Now that I'm at the end of this review, I realize that I haven't made much of a case for why this movie is so good. And I still can't figure out how to express it. But trust me, if you're sick of the whole mass media zombie-bombardment of the last several years, don't let that put you off from seeing it. The Battery is the anti-World War Z.