THE BAD BATCH is a film that I’m still trying to wrap my head around but nonetheless am absolutely in love with. Imagine a drug-fueled romp through the desert with neon lights, cult leaders, pregnant women, hordes of cannibals, and a dystopian wasteland. If you can visualize that then you have a pretty good idea of what THE BAD BATCH is. It may not be a perfect film, but god damn if it isn’t a fun ride.
THE BAD BATCH is the sophomore film from director Ana Lily Amirpour and has an all star cast that includes Suki Waterhouse (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Jason Momoa (“Game of Thrones”), Keanu Reeves (John Wick 2), and Jim Carrey (Kick-Ass 2). There are also some amazing cameos by Giovanni Ribsci and Diego Luna, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for them.
The story focuses on Alren (Waterhouse) who has been released into the Texas wastelands after being segregated into what society has deemed the “bad batch.” Alone, with very little water, she is captured by a group of cannibals looking for a mighty treat. Not wanting to be devoured whole by these body building cannibals, Alren does whatever she can to escape into the desert. Eventually, Arlen is discovered by a mysterious hermit who takes her to a settlement run by outlaws and led by a charismatic cult leader. When the head of the body building cannibals, Miami Man (Momoa), daughter goes missing, he must join forces with Alren, the woman his camp planned on eating, to search for his daughter.
I know, that synopsis sounds crazy, but believe me when I say it works. This is in part because the chemistry between Alren and Miami Man is seductive and enticing. It was also nice to see Keanu Reeves in another role outside of his more action orientated films. I loved him as the sleezy manager in THE NEON DEMON and I once again enjoyed him immensely as the cult leader of this settlement. Even though his role is small, he’s still able to be completely captivating on screen and it makes you want to learn more about the background of his character. The only actor I was iffy about was Jim Carrey, having been more familiar with his comedies, not so much his more serious roles. However, he was fantastic as the wandering hermit, taking what he needs from the desert and helping to guide those along who are lost. It’s as though his character is the balance between the settlements and the cannibals.
As for the violence, there’s plenty of it, mostly at the hands of the body-building cannibals. The film doesn’t shy away from showing the more grotesque aspects of preparing the victim’s body for consumption. Even when the film isn’t showing that, just the thought of knowing some of the characters have been sliced and diced can turn one’s stomach, especially when Miami Man gives his daughter some of the cooked meat from a helpless victim. In terms of scares, there weren’t really any, as this isn’t a film that relies on scaring you so much as making you feel uncomfortable and disgusted by the actions of humans.
Overall, I absolutely loved THE BAD BATCH. Though this is a film that isn’t going to cater to everyone’s taste, I found it to be a unique take on the cannibalism genre. Just like with THE NEON DEMON, this film is striking and visually impressive which is a nice departure from the horror genre films that use more of a monotone color palette. The acting is what really sells the film as well as the dynamics between the characters stories and how they interact with each other. It’s hard to find a film that can take an overused concept and make it new, but director Ana Lily Amirpour hit the ball out of the park with THE BAD BATCH and I can’t wait to see what she does next.