The Battery (2012)
"Show me the way to go home, I'm tired and I want to go to bed."
Quick summary: We follow former baseball players Ben and Mickey as they survive a zombie apocalypse by wandering through the relatively zombie-free Connecticut wilderness. While bickering.
This caught me by surprise. I think we've definitely reached peak-zombie at the moment (though I hear wonderful things about The Girl With All The Gifts) and I wasn't entirely sure I needed to see another zombie survival movie. But this sweet natured, low budget (it was made for $6,000), zomblecore character study felt like a breath of fresh air.
Ben (played by writer and director Jeremy Gardner) enjoys the rudimentary camping trip they find themselves on. The hunter/gatherer lifestyle suits him and he seems to revel in dispatching the zombies that cross their path. Mickey on the other hand (played by producer Adam Cronheim) tries his level best to escape the reality of the situation - burning through batteries listening to Americana on his headphones and longing for a bed with a roof. It's a solid dynamic and leads to a decent exploration of their relationship throughout the course of the film. And the headphones ensure we get a great soundtrack.
Despite it likely being a budgetary choice, I really liked how we joined most of the zombie encounters after-the-fact. Letting the malaise and loneliness of their odd, co-dependent relationship become the focus of the movie over the undead.
The Battery of the title, for those of you like myself who lack the baseball knowledge, is what the dynamic between a pitcher and catcher is called.
The film is playful and funny, and while the characters can be arseholes, I found myself growing fond of them and rooting for their survival. A nice change from the unrelenting grimness and broad character archetypes of The Walking Dead (which, in fairness, I've not watched much of since Season 2). There's a great 11 minute long, stationary shot towards the end that audaciously asks the viewer to imagine the climatic moments of the film happening offscreen. Plus a touching nod to Jaws. Plus an uncomfortable masturbation scene. So you know, something for everyone?
I wonder if the sunlit photography and meandering, contemplative pacing was inspired by Badlands. It certainly reminded me of Malick's film in this reagrd but that might just be due to the knowing homage on the poster.
Larry Fessenden cameo klaxon.
Maybe it's because I'm spending a week (admittedly self-imposed) watching two horror films every day, illustrating one, writing these basic notes, and then fitting in the rest of my paid work - but I sort of found myself envying their zombie-based camping holiday. I clearly need to get out of the house.
I also watched:
The Hallow (2015)
"This isn't London, things here go bump in the night."
Quick summary: A couple from London move, with their tiny little innocent baby, to a remote Irish village to survey a local forest for some unnamed (I think?) corporation/developer. But by trespassing in the woods, they unwittingly piss off some baby-stealing Irish folklore.
First things first - two of the leads in this are Benjen Stark and Roose Bolton - the latter being the harbinger of doom who pops by to pass-agg warn the family about The Hallow. Also, an all too brief cameo from Michael Smiley.
The film clearly wants the viewer to recall The Thing, Evil Dead, Pan's Labyrinth and Straw Dogs when watching this. And it starts strongly enough in the first act that it almost gets away with quoting those films so directly. But by the end, the film felt more like the Del Toro produced Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark remake - solid and well crafted enough, with some good creature effects, but offering little new or surprising.
Benjen Stark annoyingly "splits the party" a little too much and honestly, was bringing parasitic fungus spores into the house with your child really the best idea Benjen? Also, while we're at it Benjen - you're working for some faceless corporation taking down a forest so are we actually supposed to be on your side?
I was pretty excited about a good cabin in the woods scare, and I liked the idea of using Irish folklore for the horror element - that felt new. But in the end it all felt like a bit of a missed opportunity.
There's a lot here to like though, and the director - Corin Hardy - definitely delivered some great set-pieces that suggest his future projects will be worth a look.
Tonight: I might watch some Netflix horror tonight with Creep (2014) and #Horror (2015).
Check out the archive of the horror week here.