THE BAD BATCH is a post-apocalyptic film from visionary filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour. This is her second feature (as far as I know) and follow up to the critical acclaimed A GRIL WALKS HOME AT NIGHT. A film that is now on my list to watch!
When I first heard about THE BAD BATCH I quickly dismissed it as a VOD title, something I'd possibly catch on Netflix in the future. Then I saw on Facebook that Tim League (co-founder of Alamo Drafthouse) was distributing it under his company NEON. They released a film called COLOSSAL earlier in the year which I loved, so now I definitely was going to watch THE BAD BATCH!
For a film like THE BAD BATCH, one would typically have to see it on VOD at home. But, I was one of the fortunate few to see the film on a big screen. My city has an Alamo Drafthouse (brand new) and they specialize in showing independent films like THE BAD BATCH. Unfortunately, the audience for independent films is pretty slim in Springfield, MO. I think there were only 8 - 10 people in the theater watching it with me? The film only played a little over a week I think?
The Alamo has only been open about a month and is only operating half of their theaters, the end of July all 14 auditoriums will be running. Maybe then they play more independent films?
Much like IT COMES AT NIGHT, we're not given much explanation as to what's going on in THE BAD BATCH. Through some visuals we can see that the Bad Batch are branded and escorted to some sort of penal colony. Similar to ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK but instead of a city, the Batch are dropped off in a desert wasteland. My guess is somewhere in Texas?
In the film we follow Arlen, who is brand new to this "prison". Almost immediately Arlen is attack by two hulking brutes in a golf cart. She wakes up to the terror that she has been captured by cannibals! Missing an arm and a leg, Arlen survives only to be food saved for later. Knowing her doom, Arlen successfully escapes the cannibals but passes out from the desert heat and is saved by mysterious drifter.
Five months later and Arlen is (almost) fully healed and residing in a town called Comfort. There is nothing special or peculiar (yet) about Comfort, it's a typical post-apocalyptic town. These scenes reminded of the video game FALLOUT 3 a little bit?
Feeling adventurous, Arlen goes outside of Comfort for a little bit of exploring. On her adventure she spots a golf cart and ends up killing a cannibal. In a heartbreaking moment (for me at least) the cannibal was a mother to a young child. The child follows Arlen back to Comfort.
Arlen is in for some big trouble when come to find out that the little girls father is a man named Miami Man, and is a bad ass!
Back in Comfort we finally meet the man who runs Comfort, The Dream. This is where the movie gets weird (in a good way) and becomes even more existential than it already was. In a nutshell, The Dream (played awesomely by Keanu Reeves) tells the town that key to comfort and the dream lies within. I don't remember exactly if that's what he said, I do know it's close enough.
The kid wanders off and runs into The Dream and his many wives. Arlen who seems like she doesn't want anything to do with Comfort or The Dream, leaves town. In the wasteland she runs into Miami Man who demands her daughter back or else!
This should be the moment that THE BAD BATCH is really good, but nothing ever really exciting happens. I wasn't expecting some big shoot out or action scene reminiscent of ROAD WARRIOR? There were even a few moments that I got bored. Arlen repeatedly leaving Comfort started to get on my nerves. With that being said, I kept getting sucked into the movie because of it's cultish appeal. It felt as if I was watching a lost cult classic from the Eighties?
In conclusion, I feel that I can only recommend THE BAD BATCH to movie buffs.