Format: DVD Release date: 3 April 2017 Distributor: Kaleidoscope Entertainment Directors: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen Writer: Nick Damici Cast: Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Laura Abramsen
The follow-up to Jim Mickle’s apocalyptic vampire tale Stake Land is disappointing but there is life still in this undead saga.
It’s nice to see Glass Eye Pix building up something like a franchise, with star-writer Nick Damici staying on from Jim Mickle’s Stake Land and the Body team of Dan Berk and Robert Olsen stepping in as directors. The first film offered an alternative to the many, many zombie apocalypses by presenting a vampire apocalypse. It also added the I Am Legend fillip of showing the last remnants of North American humanity besieged by zombie-like nocturnal monsters and equally dangerous lunatic religious factions (‘the Brotherhood’), as hints of malign intelligence suggest that there might be more traditional, calculating vampires out there. In this follow-up, the theme is only slightly developed with the addition of a vampire villainess, the Mother (Kristina Hughes) – should she get together with the Father, from Octane? – who has a grudge against Mad Maxy veteran vamp-hunter Mister (Damici) for killing her child (she’s a rare vampire who can give birth) and putting out her eye with an arrow.
It’s not easy to explore genre films nowadays without running into the zombie apocalypse sub-genre: a popular topic for both studio and independent films, the scenario has been explored from almost every angle imaginable. However, Jeremy Gardner’s genuine gem of a movie The Battery manages to inject it with some much needed adrenaline, using its low-budget roots to intelligently revisit the tropes of the sub-genre.
The Battery concerns two ex-baseball players, Ben and Mickey, who find themselves forced to survive together despite their clear character differences. While Ben accepts the apocalypse and tries to adapt, Mickey is adamant in holding on to his old lifestyle – needless to say the two are constantly at odds.
As the two men make their way through a desolate landscape, we learn more about their past as well as the world in which they exist. The Battery is a subtle exploration of the aftermath of a tragedy, and a film inhabited by characters with more than just two dimensions.
To reveal more of the story would be unfair to those venturing into this land for the first time; instead let us say that this clever, exciting film uses the limitations of its budget and production to create a convincing world within which real people commit some very desperate acts.
The music, and the lack of it, play an important part. The film uses its soundtrack cleverly, involving the audience emotionally in ways they might have otherwise missed. The cinematography also deserves applause. Through clever framing and extensive use of natural light the filmmakers are able to conjure up a wholly believable apocalypse without ever resorting to the sort of post-production work that can prove distracting.
The Battery represents independent, low-budget filmmaking at its absolute best. It’s a film made with care and thought, bringing a hitherto unseen intelligence to a genre fast decaying into familiarity.
Watch the trailer:
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