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The Battery (Blu-ray Review)

The-BatteryLast year, horror was abuzz with a word of this new zombie film called The Battery.  It was a super low budget indie film ($6,000), but I didn’t really know much about it.  All I had seen was a picture and a really cool poster (that is the flip side of the cover art on this release).  I pretty much got to go in blind.  And yeah, I was definitely on board with everyone singing it praises.  But, who was going to release the film on home video?  That was the big question.  And as a huge welcomed surprise, it ended up being Scream Factory.  I had definitely said when this was announced that without it even being release yet it was their best modern horror film release, and I’m sticking to that.

The Battery (Blu-ray Review)

Film 

Two former professional baseball players, Ben and Mickey, are on their own wandering the northeast United States following a zombie apocalypse.  Its been pretty much just them, and they travel place to place, never staying in a house, never sleeping in a bed.  Being on the move is their mantra.  Problem being, they’re both kind of tired of each other.  Ben wishes Mickey would be more aggressive and give up hope and just accept what life currently is.  Mickey desires a light at the end of the tunnel and is extremely mopey and pitying himself.  One day, they find a walkie talkie and discover a channel with people on the other end.  They’re warned to stay away, but Mickey’s curiosity and hope keep him from turning his back.

Be warned modern zombie fans, there is not a lot of “zombie action” taking place in The Battery.  If you are looking for constant gratification in the form of bullets through skulls and gooey bodily harm, you won’t find it here.  Yes, there are some zombies, there is blood in the film, but that’s not what this is after.  What we have here is the best kind of zombie.  One that focuses more on the human relationships and the human conflicts than it does keeping a scorecard and highlight reel of kills.  What we are witnessing at the start of The Battery, is the very worn down friendship of Mickey and Ben on its last legs.  Prior to the apocalypse the two were on the same baseball team but didn’t do much in the way of socialization.  Now they’ve had to spend every day together just the two of them.

Ben is the survivor type and seems to enjoy the “thrill of the hunt”.  He relishes in fishing, going place to place looking for supplies and killing zombies to survive.  Also, the only person he really needs in life is Mickey.  On the other hand, Mickey is a guy who seems to fear the violence and wants to sit and reflect on everything lost.  But he doesn’t have the time, and is a very passive person so Ben has pretty much dictated their path to survival the whole time.  This story’s conflict comes when Mickey finally decides to stand up for himself a little and try to show Ben that there are other means to survival.  And just because something didn’t work for them one time, doesn’t mean it doesn’t always work.

While The Battery is done on a next to nothing budget, it really did itself a great service in its location shooting.  Most everything was apparently the real deal when they found it.  They chose the same area where the early Friday The 13th films had been shot.  From empty campgrounds to cabins, these abandoned areas gave a natural and “real” feel to this post apocalyptic world The Battery is set in.  The cinematography is pretty well executed too, and you’ll be shocked when you watch the “Making Of” feature and see the shot of all the camera equipment used (its very minimal and low end).

As said before, there may not be a lot of action in the traditional sense of exploitation with bashing blood and guts all over, but it doesn’t mean the film isn’t without suspense.  There are many tense situations in the film and some unique scenarios.  There is one taboo situation that will truly have people talking.  But, it works out tremendously and really serves as creating a depth for the type of world it is and how long and desperate things have become.  I’m most impressed with the film’s climax though.  Without divulging anything, its filmed and executed with a such a great low-budget mined brilliance that it really drives your own intensity and sanity as you watch it unfold in real time.  So much done with so little.  After seeing the film, I almost want Jeremy Gardner to never have a big budget on anything he works on from here on out.  As I’ve always said, some of the greatest creativity and where we separate the best from the rest comes when we can see who can do effective things with a big idea and without any money.

Another aspect proving to be one of the big strengths of The Battery is the soundtrack and score for the film.  The score was produced using a lot of natural sounds and items like broken bottlenecks to scratch on the guitar strings while it plays and stuff like that.  The music featured in the film is primarily folk music.  It eschews a very raw and primitive feeling to the mood of the film.  The music itself is of a very stripped down to the basics nature, which is very much what the world has become after the zombie apocalypse.  Only the music coming from Mickey’s headphones sounds more modern and overproduced electronically.  It was a genius move to head in this direction with the musical choices and really enhances the feeling and emotion of the film.  And, I also want the soundtrack and to check out some of the bands on it now.

While it may not be for “everyone” (the movie leaves some things to wonder and doesn’t spoon feed its audience), The Battery may just be one of the best zombie films ever made.  It certainly sets itself apart in the modern era where we have an onslaught of zombie movies large and small coming out every month and television shows revolving around them.  This is the type of zombie movie “we ask for” and the kind of character work a lot of The Walking Dead‘s biggest haters would like to see more infused into that show.  Zombie films are at their best in a “prestige” fashion when they are about the people and human conflicts in the zombie world with the living dead as just a backdrop.  The Battery manages to take that concept and truly excel at it.

The Battery (Blu-ray Review)

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail:  Detail is pretty solid here.  You can easily see thread patterns on blankets as well as wood grain on surfaces.  Also dings and dents on the car are visible.  The picture quality may be limited due to the equipment used, but what we have here is actually pretty terrific in its own right.

Depth: Depth is pretty good.  From the outset we get a fine example with Mickey front and center smoking a cigarette with a house in the back.  There’s also some good range in some more open field scenes.

Black Levels:  Blacks a solid and lifelike.  The film is lit in a way that is dark, but doesn’t mask detail and you can see varying shades of darkness.

Color Reproduction:  Colors pop pretty good.  Reds and greens are standout.  Its mostly a natural looking film that feels devoid of any sort of vivid coloring.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are a bit warm, consistent and very detailed.  From scraped up zombie flesh to individual hairs on Ben’s craft beer enthusiast beard, you get a very lifelike look at the characters.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

The Battery (Blu-ray Review)

Audio 

Audio Format(s):  English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  While The Battery relies mostly on music and conversation, the effects work here is pretty great.  Featuring a range of volumes, each sound is well crafted and feels very real and in front of you.

Low Frequency Extension:  Car doors shutting, doors getting slammed or kicked down and gunshots are amplified by the sub.

Surround Sound Presentation:  When zombies surround you, they surround.  The rear speakers are full of gurgling, groaning and gaggling (3 gs?) that amplify a mass zombie attack.  Also the right to left interplay has a lot of fun.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Crisp and clear.  Front heavy.

The Battery (Blu-ray Review)

Extras 

The Battery comes with a reversible cover featuring a pretty cool retro-looking poster for the film.

Commentary With Writer/Director Jeremy Gardner, Producer And Actor Adam Cronheim And Director Of Photography Christian Stella – This commentary was recorded on all their own time, as they mention its for a DVD that may never happen.  We are taken through a colorful and detailed run of the film’s history and production.  These guys are not afraid to open up and discuss anything regarding the film production.

Tools Of Ignorance: The Making Of The Battery (HD, 1:29:20) – An incredible fascinating feature length making of this indie zombie film.  From some of the crew’s history together through the success of the film at festivals, all grounds are covered.  Its incredibly in depth and very open about anything and everything.  For a film that’s quite new, they are not afraid to talk about what they think stinks or fights they had onset and during post production.  Some of this is even captured in behind the scenes video.  Also appearing in this feature are Deleted Scenes from the film.  This is an incredible and honest look at a super low budgeted film and what they had to go through to make it.

Trailer (HD, 1:59)

Outtakes (HD, 11:37)

Rock Plaza Central At The Parlor (HD, 10:48) – A little bit on the music featured in the film.  The crew was made breakfast and got to sit in on some sessions with the band Rock Plaza Central who provided a couple songs for the film.

More From Scream Factory – Trailers for Beneath, Dead Shadows, Chilling Visions: 5 Senses Of Fear

The Battery (Blu-ray Review)

Summary 

Scream Factory struck gold on acquiring The Battery.  It totally ups their ante on the quality of their modern horror releases and also gives it the kind of love their normal vintage lot get.  The Battery looks and sounds great, but also is accompanied but an incredibly wealthy set of bonus materials that will leave you with no questions after you’re done watching this disc.  This is an great zombie movie and an outstanding release.  There were a pair of things I hoped for The Battery when it came to home video, I want people to see this movie, and I wanted it to have a great Blu-ray.  The latter portion of that was taken care of in spades by Scream Factory.  Now, you just need to pre-order yourself a copy and see what I’m talking about here.

The Battery (Blu-ray Review)

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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