M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Three of my decade-long Retro-Best in Horror recap Countdowns begins officially on October 1, 2012 and goes through September 30, 2013. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!
How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2012 and September 30, 2013 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on June 4, 2013 and available on digital download, On Demand and BluRay/DVD here!
THE BATTERY (2013)
There are those who hear that a film is about vampires or zombies or found footage and immediately write them off. Sure, those folks are protecting themselves from scores of pretty bad films, but by doing so, you miss out on the occasional gem. Sure, I have to watch a bunch of crappy vampire films, but if I didn’t I would have overlooked KISS OF THE DAMNED. If I’d have turned up my nose to all found footage films, I would have cheated myself out of seeing the surprisingly fun THE DINOSAUR PROJECT. And had I turned a blind eye to all zombie films, I would have missed my favorite zombie film of the year, THE BATTERY.
THE BATTERY’s genius lies in its simplicity. Peel back the rotted, decayed layers and you’ll see at its core, it’s a movie about friendship–a strong friendship between two guys who just happen to be wandering around in a world infested with zombies. Though the first moments begin with a literal bang, quite a bit of the film consists of the quiet time showing the highs, the lows, the differences, the embarrassing moments, and all of the complexities of friendship. Because who would you rather spend the zombie apocalypse with other than your best friend?
Not to get too schmaltzy, but this is the type of film that really highlights the importance of friendship by placing two friends in the most dire of circumstances. Though one might think these two characters–star/writer/director Jeremy Gardner (who plays the free-wheeling Ben) and actor Adam Cronheim (who plays Mickey, the more uptight one), would tear each other’s throats out since they are as different as can be, this Odd Couple of the Apocalypse work well together. The title of the film is explained later as the two friends, exact opposites, act as a battery, positive and negative charges looking out for one another or in baseball terms (a sport they both love) someone throwing the ball and another one catching it. Throughout the film both of their personalities prove crucial in their survival as Ben keeps things fun in order to retain their sanity and Mickey being neurotically careful in making every one of their moves.
A film such as this, which relies on quite a bit of conversation and interaction, would not be able to hold water if the performances weren’t good. Fortunately, both Gardner and Cronheim do a fantastic job in making things feel as if they have been friends forever. Gardner is given the most emotional turmoil to go through as the story goes on. Gardner’s Ben also gets to show off his dancing skills as he lets off steam to some of the fantastic music from Mickey’s music collection. This soundtrack works itself in and out of the narrative, sometimes lightening the mood, sometimes offering the perfect time for a release of tension, and other times illustrating a haunting overtone. Gardner peppers in fantastic tunes from Rock Plaza Central, The Parlor, Wise Blood, El Cantador, and Sun Hotel which I immediately downloaded after watching the film (something I rarely do).
What sets THE BATTERY ahead of the zombie herd is the attention to structure in the story as well. The film starts out with these expansive scenes of open forests, lakes, and fields. Being the savvy survivors that they are, Mickey and Ben get out of the populated areas and stick to the open spaces. But just a few wrong turns–mostly perpetuated by Mickey’s need for something more than living a vagabond existence (an existence Ben is more than comfortable living), Ben and Mickey go from expansive spaces to the exact opposite; cramped in the back of a keyless station wagon surrounded by hungry zombies. As calm and serene the first half of this film is, the tension is cranked to the limit once Ben and Mickey, pushed to the limits of their friendship, are forced into the small quarters with nothing but liquor, beans, a baseball bat, and a gun with six bullets. The story becomes a test of wills for the two men, seeing not if they survive, but how long they can survive each other.
The ending of THE BATTERY is absolutely heartbreaking, another testament to Gardner’s talented story, the cramped direction of the camera inside of the car, and the performances by Gardner and Cronheim themselves. It’s a story that resonates long after the credits and makes you want to rewind and enjoy the journey all over again to see these two friends interact with one another. So likable, these two actors make you wish you could grab a backpack and hike with them across these fantastic locales yourself.
THE BATTERY is not your typical zombie movie in that it’s about much more than plagues, spectacle, and worldwide catastrophe. It’s a small film that hits harder than most big budget blockbusters; making you laugh, cry, and root for these two friends to survive despite the odds set against them. Sure films like WORLD WAR Z are going to have the spectacle, the big budget promos, and the star power, and I’m sure that PG-13 zombie film might have its merits, but you’re not going to find a zombie film this year that is more original, more touching, or simply more entertaining than THE BATTERY.
THE 2012-2013 COUNTDOWN!
#5 – THE BATTERY
#6 – STOKER
#7 – AMERICAN MARY
#8 – EVIL DEAD 2013
#9 – RESOLUTION
#10 – SLEEP TIGHT
#11 – WE ARE WHAT WE ARE
#12 – THE CONJURING
#13 – SIGHTSEERS
#14 – WITHER
#15 – KISS OF THE DAMNED
#16 – JUG FACE
#17 – NO ONE LIVES
#18 – YOU’RE NEXT
#19 – HOME SWEET HOME
#20 – THE TAINT
#21 – THE PURGE
#22 – RITUAL/MODUS ANOMALI
#23 – V/H/S/2
#24 – MON AMI
#25 – EUROPA REPORT
#26 – BLIND ALLEY
#27 – MIDNIGHT SON
#28 – DEVIL’S PASS
#29 – COME OUT AND PLAY
#30 – THE LAST WILL & TESTAMENT OF ROSALIND LEIGH
#31 – I DIDN’T COME HERE TO DIE
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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