Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Scream Factory - THE BATTERY on Blu-ray ""

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Scream Factory - THE BATTERY on Blu-ray

THE BATTERY (2012; Jeremy Gardner)
Like a lot of horror movie fans, I've got a full-on case of zombie fatigue. I even burned out on THE WALKING DEAD early on in season two (though I know it gets better and I may jump back in at some point). The zombie genre is justifiably greatly maligned because there have been (& continue to be) so many mediocre to bad zombie movies made. Horror films in general have always been a cheap and easy thing to do and within that, zombie films are relatively straightforward in terms of ease of production. All you need is a little green makeup and some boarded up windows right? What if you crossed a zombie movie with David Gordon Green's ALL THE REAL GIRLS? That's kind of a little bit of what THE BATTERY is like. I know it can be annoying to reduce a movie to a combination of other existing things or styles, but I feel like this kind of shorthand is: a) fun to try to figure out and b) helpful in catching people's attention and perhaps piquing their interest in seeing a film they might not have been inclined to see before that. As I was saying to my son in regards to THE BATTERY, sometimes I like it when films show you the less exciting, more mundane bits of life that are often left out of the story. Early on in THE BATTERY there's a short scene of the two guys (Ben and Mickey) standing in a driveway, brushing their teeth. Now that's not a scene I've seen in too many zombie movies. In fact, it's not really fair to the film to call it a zombie movie. I mean, yes there are zombies in it, but THE BATTERY seems to me to be more of a mediation on loneliness and isolation. In a remarkably realized, low-key observational way, the movie lets us slowly get to know the two main characters and how they got to be where they are. It really is such a refreshing little film. The dialogue between the two guys feels quite real and grounded. They feel legitimately like two dudes who've been stuck together for a long time. They have a shared comradery, but they also have a tendency to get on each other's nerves. The movie subtly delves into the psychological toll that this situation would have on these two guys. My son (15) turned to me at one point whilst watching the film and said, "This movie is kinda depressing". I had to agree with him, but I pointed out that it's not the worst thing in the world to watch a depressing movie from time to time. I warner him at the outset that this movie wouldn't be like SHAUN OF THE DEAD (which he is a big big fan of) and that it may be a little more in line with THE WALKING DEAD (which he also likes). THE BATTERY is it's own thing though. It has humor, and scares and pathos. It is a very unique and excellent little movie. What's more remarkable is that it's all that it is and was made on a budget of around $6000. That's a damned miracle. It really hangs on the performances of writer/director Jeremy Gardner (who plays Ben in the film) and Adam Cronheim (who plays Mickey). The movie lives or dies by their interactions and they totally pull it off. There are some long dialogue scenes that could easily leave the actors out to dry if they weren't as capable as they are. I was quite impressed with the movie and you will be too.
When I first heard the announcement that Scream Factory was bringing this film out on Blu-ray I was immediately excited by the idea. What a match made in heaven this is. I've certainly enjoyed the fact that Scream has not only dedicated themselves to putting out remarkable Blu-ray editions of horror cult classics and genre favorites, but they've also made a nice effort to put some new horror films out in the world via their brand and THE BATTERY is without question the best of these new movies. Along with their collaboration with longtime filmmaker Larry Fessenden on the Scream Factory release of his film BENEATH, this is my favorite new film from Scream. I am excited for more like these and I hope Scream will continue to be on the lookout for wonderfully talented people like Jeremy Gardner. I very much look forward to his next feature.

Special Features:
Included on this Blu-ray is one whopper of a nice supplement in the 90-minute making of documentary: TOOLS OF IGNORANCE (great title). Within the doc, Gardner remarks at one point that just prior to making THE BATTERY he had been devouring DVD special features and commentaries and he does his part to give back here to other young filmmakers with his insights (and those of his cast and crew) in both the doc and the commentary. Outside of being a solid film, this disc is a great resource for people who'd like to try to cheaply make a film themselves. Gardner details his process of creating the film, assembling his crew and dealing with various issues and mistakes throughout the course of the production. It's a neat little "film school in a box" type package.
-The Blu-ray also has an great audio commentary from Jeremy Gardner, Adam Cronheim and Director of Photography Christian Stella. It's recorded interestingly at a time when the three were unsure there would even be a DVD release of the film as a "just in case" kinda thing. It's a very neat track and is largely quite screen/scene specific. This is fascinating as the gents reveal much about how certain scenes were originally shot (and where) and how they came to change/adjust them to fit the movie as a whole. They made some cool choices based on what is said here and all of it adds to the learning experience one could take away from this Blu-ray.
-The disc also has a pretty funny outtake reel and a featurette on the music used in the film.


THE BATTERY on Blu-ray has a price point (about $15) that makes it an easy blind-buy for the curious horror fan and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
It can be purchased via Shout Factory, Amazon and elsewhere:
https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-horror/the-battery

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