‘The Bad Batch’ is Devilishly Deranged and Wholly Divisive

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The Bad Batch

The second feature by writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour, The Bad Batch, takes place in a warped dystopia. In this world, which honestly doesn’t look too far off from the GOP’s vision for America, anyone who doesn’t fit the norms deemed by the society are banished, labeled as a member of the Bad Batch and dispatched to dry desert hell-scape. The tangible details that most moviegoers would look for in a film like this – the year, the broader political landscape – are wholly absents as Amirpour is concerned only with the dark, twisted society that emerged from society’s rejects. The Bad Batch certainly isn’t for everyone, but it’s a demented and unique vision that could only emerge from the exciting mind of Ana Lily Amirpour.

Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) has just been branded as part of the Bad Batch and has a number designation tattooed on her. Alone, she’s set loose to wander her new home, a barren wasteland. As she walks along the lifeless dirt, she’s kidnapped, drugged, and chained. When she awakens, she’s mortified to see that her leg and arm have been slashed off and consumed by the cannibalistic hordes that occupy a dark corner of the Bad Batch’s land. After a bit of ingenuity, Arlen is able to escape and is guided to another part of the secluded land, Comfort. This corner of the world isn’t ruled by the muscle-bound cannibals, but instead a cult-like environment overseen by The Dream (Keanu Reeves), who holds massive parties where he doses his crowds with hallucinogens to facilitate their worship of him.

Sometimes Arlen leaves the confines of Comfort, and in one particular trek she crosses paths with Maria (Yolonda Ross). Noticing that she’s a member of the cannibalistic section of the Bad Batch, Arlen fires her sidearm, killing Maria. But Arlen takes the young girl with her, Honey (Jada Fink). However, her father, Miami Man (Jason Momoa), comes looking for his daughter. Arlen loses Honey during one of The Dream’s drug-fueled parties and soon will cross paths with the muscular man in search of his daughter. These two different sides of a derelict civilization will be forced to work together to find the young girl lost in the wasteland.

It’s very easy to see what early reaction to The Bad Batch hasn’t been overwhelmingly positive. This movie can be extremely ugly at times, with graphic violence and gore. Then there’s the uncompromising artistic vision of its writer-director, who never allows her story to even come close to meeting expectations of where it’s going. There are no easy answers or solutions in The Bad Batch, and that twisted nature to the film is really going to turn off some audiences. Whatever aspects that off-putting about The Bad Batch are purely intentional, and I feel only add to the haunting imagery that fills the screen throughout. You don’t have to like every turn that occurs in the film to respect Amirpour’s unwavering commitment to her dystopian vision.

The Bad Batch does not feature a cathartic ending where the music swells and there’s a sense of hope and awe and optimism. Which is not to say it’s an unhappy ending. Ana Lily Amirpour creates an entirely unsettling movie because she’s deftly establishes a dynamic between these two civilizations in this post-civilization nightmare. The dynamic is simply one place good, the other place bad. Once that’s been established, Amirpour sheds the layers of a binary look at this world. It’s much more morally grey than initially presented, and it leads to a devastating critique of our divided culture.

Ana Lily Amirpour is one of the most exciting voices in modern genre cinema, and The Bad Batch only proves that she’s not going to sacrifice what makes her talent so special to please critics and audiences. The Bad Batch is a one-of-a-kind movie, a blistering satire that is darkly comic, vividly gruesome, and absolutely demented. This movie isn’t for everyone, just those destined to be designated as part of the Bad Batch.

The Bad Batch
  • Overall Score


A bizarre, off-putting tale in a dystopian hell-scape, The Bad Batch will divide audiences but those willing to stick with it will find a unique piece of genre filmmaking.

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