THE BAD BATCH (REVIEW)
Dir. Ana Lily Amirpour
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Her feature debut, A GIRL WALKS ALONE AT NIGHT, put Ana Lily Amirpour on the map. Her Iranian vampire film had style AND substance and proved a sleeper cult classic. After two years, she’s now returning with a big cast and a bad attitude with THE BAD BATCH.
Suki Waterhouse (PRIDE & PREJUDICE & ZOMBIES), Jason Momoa (GAME OF THRONES, CONAN THE BARBARIAN), Keanu Reeves (KNOCK KNOCK, THE MATRIX), Giovanni Ribisi (AVATAR, TED) and a brief cameo from Jim Carrey all band together in an outback tale of cannibalism, revenge and survival.
Recently released from prison, Arien (Waterhouse) is taken in and chopped up for meat for the local residents of an outback town. In a fight for survival, the amputee finds hope and seeks revenge for the cannibal clan that feed off the released.
Her plan for vengeance is scuppered by a series of unfortunate encounters and an enlightenment that between the line of revenge and death is a life to be endeared no matter what has been before. Somewhere in THE BAD BATCH is a heart-warming story of life after horrifying events, unfortunately it is diluted in a screen that spans eighties trash and philosophical bullshit that feels so insincere that it may as well come from Charles Manson.
It’s difficult to pigeonhole THE BAD BATCH as despite the sheer lust for brutality and horrifically graphic violence, montage of capitalist shaming and ego centric characters lies a Lynchian nightmare that in the end, feels like a two hour ride through the roughest sites of America which leaves you thinking, why would I want to return to this? Amidst neon lights, pounds of muscle and cult leadership, THE BAD BATCH is an amalgamation of SPRING BREAKERS, WOLF CREEK and DAVID LYNCH.
Stackhouse holds the lead and has some bad ass scene stealing moments against the backdrop of so many A-listers and despite their credentials, don’t seem phased by the sheer disgust shown on screen. While the film has a lot going on in the background, at the forefront of THE BAD BATCH feels shallow and in the end is a forgettable experience that has no depth. The film feels like a violent revenge thriller for the good part but as the film hits the second half digresses into a survival cultist movie that shares more with EDM drama WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS than CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST.
It is a disappointing as the film has some stunning visuals, uncharacteristic and unpredictable performances and a killer soundtrack to boot. In addition there is huge kudos and recognition deserved for the make-up and effects department who effortlessly turn Waterhouse into an amputee with relative ease but beneath the surface THE BAD BATCH falls flat of any real sense of meaning or purpose, losing its way in the later half to something that feels somewhat unfamiliar to what the first half promised to deliver.