Review: The Bad Batch

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

PLOT: In a post-apocalyptic Texas landscape, a young woman wanders around finding cannibals and cult members. Only it's not nearly as bizarre and fun as it sounds.

REVIEW: After the critical success of Ana Lily Amirpour’s acclaimed A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, it’s unfortunate that her follow-up film is THE BAD BATCH. Described on IMDb as “a dystopian love story… set in a community of cannibals," this feature film is light on both. In fact, it’s light on pretty much any kind of substance. We watch Suki Waterhouse wander through a post-apocalyptic wasteland for two hours. There is a minimal plot, and while it is impressive to look at, it is an empty and pointless experience. You do get a few familiar faces in interesting roles. Keanu Reeves, Diego Luna, Giovanni Ribisi and Jim Carrey all take on unique characters that at least add some creative stunt casting.

After being labeled one of the “Bad Batch,” survivor Arlen (Waterhouse) is sent off to fend for herself in a sort of no mans land. Once there, she is taken by force by a family of cannibals. It appears that society has mostly resorted to this to survive. After having both her arm and leg cut off, she manages to make an unlikely escape. Months later, she has found a temporary leg, and fate brings her to a young girl named Honey (Jayda Fink). Arlen brings her along only to lose her during a drug fueled rave where she is discovered by the young girls father (?) Miami Man (Jason Momoa). He forces Arlen to help find the girl in a cultish community led by a man known as The Dream (Reeves).

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Just trying to put what little plot there is into words is a strange experience. THE BAD BATCH sounds outrageous and wild as you talk about a weird cult leader played by Keanu Reeves and Jim Carrey as some desert wanderer who comes to the rescue. Giovanni Ribisi has the best of the cameo appearances as a crazy man who sort of befriends Arlen. It SOUNDS wild, but unfortunately it's deadly dull. Arlen is one of the most uninspired characters I’ve seen on screen in awhile. It’s a role that rarely garners the audiences sympathy. It’s not that she is particularly bad or evil, she is just not very interesting. Everything that happens to her is by chance, and when she does actually try and do something to help herself or Honey it isn’t very convincing. We have no reason to care for Arlen, or anybody else for that matter.

The script, also by Amipour, lazily wanders through the Texas wasteland with very little purpose. The “love story” comes over half way into the film, when she develops a bit of a bond with Miami Man. However, calling that a love story is ridiculous. He threatens to kill her if she doesn’t help find his daughter so it's not the most romantic first meeting. The chemistry between Waterhouse and Momoa is fine, but nothing really happens. It’s not even just the fact that both characters are just as awful as the other “bad batch.” The two spend very little screen time together so when they do find solace in the relationship, it is far too little and too late.

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You have to give Amipour credit for trying something a little different with this post-apocalyptic feature. One sequence featuring both Reeves and Luna – with Luna playing a badass DJ named Jimmy – is quite inventive. It is a drug-fueled rave with Jimmy playing in a truck designed to look like an old 80’s “ghetto blaster” – you remember those? We see Arlen getting high as she starts to question what is going on in her world with the stars dancing above her. It is a cool sequence, one of the few in the film that manages to not feel random without purpose. Yet the rest of the film is her just wandering around, meeting people, and finally looking for the little girl. Ironically, the reason she meets Honey in the first place has Arlen doing something a bit awful – even if it was probably the safer choice for the character.

THE BAD BATCH is a huge let down from Ana Lily Amirpour. It’s beautifully shot, and cinematographer Lyle Vincent along with Amipour create an interesting world to look at. However, there is nothing in this world worth investing in. Suki Waterhouse is fine in the leading role, but the character rarely manages to give any reason to care. All the elements that could have made for a something worthwhile only deliver a painfully dull, over long, pretentious bore. Who knew things would be so damn boring after the apocalypse?


The Bad Batch



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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.