The Bad Batch follows a young woman (Suki Waterhouse) who is captured by a gang of beefcake cannibals in a post-apocalyptic future. After losing a couple of limbs, Suki escapes, but is quickly pursued by a muscly-armed cannibal artist (Jason Momoa) who is in search of his daughter.
The Bad Batch Review
There is little sense or sanity portrayed in this film, which is perhaps a more accurate prediction of what a post-apocalyptic future with humanity in it would look like. Perhaps the weirdest inclusion are the gym junkies that apparently take advantage of their diet to beef up. There's little rhyme or reason to their culture, other than it's what they were doing before the apocalypse, so heck, why not keep doing it?
The generally quiet demeanor of the cannibals adds to the enigma of their nature and also makes them all the more unsettling. It's very much a calm and rhythmic process when they begin to chop up victims for the grill. This is life now, and they accept that.
The director, Ana Lily Amirpour was launched into the spotlight in indie and horror circles with her film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. The Bad Batch follows her trend of not following trends. She has no attachment to a particular style and it shows with the bizarre takes on two different genres of film. Where A Girl is dark and in black and white, Bad Batch is bright and disturbingly quirky.
I can't tell if Bad Batch is trying to say anything at all, or trying to say too much and the message is jumbled up in the awkwardly reserved chaos of all the people. Post-apocalyptic films are notorious for being social commentaries on where we're headed as a society or the dark side of humanity when we're pushed to the edge. This film follows that vein, with the cannibal crew and another society that is seemingly more put together, but is under the control of an aspiring DJ/pimp (Keanu Reeves).
And therein may lie the true conundrum of the film...is it better to embrace the new world order by just dropping all concepts of morality for the sake of survival, or is it better to try and save some semblance of society with a corrupt new system that inevitably leads to dictatorship? The answer may be neither, and dying a slow death in the remains of the world and the endless desert may be the "right" way to go.
There never feels to be an established goal for our lead (Suki). Survival seems important to her most of the time, but even then she tends to make choices that feel inadequate towards that goal. I found Momoa's character much more interesting because of his enigmatic grunts and seemingly contradictory nature to others in his clan of cannibals. It leads to more subtle views on morality through his eyes rather than our heroine.
The Bad Batch lacks the artistic turn that A Girl had. Its awkward delivery will throw off a lot of people, but this film was far better than many reviews insisted. It may have moments of gauche plot developments and storytelling, but it's a unique take on a genre that tends to be more like Mad Max or The Road. This film falls right in between the two sides of the spectrum. It was weird. It was fun. It was worth a watch.
Horror Qualifier: 6/10
Horror Quality: 3/10
Film Quality: 6/10