The Bad Batch (Film) Review


Two years ago Jill and I reviewed A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, one of the best films I’ve ever seen. While Jill has a brief hiatus after her trip (back to business as usual next week), I thought I’d weigh in on AGWHAAT director Ana Lily Amirpour‘s second feature length film, The Bad Batch.

This movie appears to have very much split opinion, as some of the best ones do but the question is, is it actually any good?

*Some spoilers, but they’ll be accidental*

The Bad Batch (2016)

IMDB Synopsis

A love story set in a community of cannibals in a future dystopia. In a desert wasteland in Texas, a muscled cannibal breaks one important rule: don’t play with your food.

Why so serious?

My Review

In Amirpour’s dystopian universe, there’s a group of people referred to as The Bad Batch. Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) is one of them for an undisclosed reason. The movie opens with her being tattooed with a number and then dumped into a fenced-in area just outside Texas.

This is, according to a sign on the fence, soil no longer considered part of America and therefore US laws do not apply here. This can only be a bad scene, man.

No sooner has Arlen been dropped off, she runs into some trouble with two dudes in a golf cart (men: always there to fuck up your life). She wakes after being captured to find herself in chains, and then things get really bad for her. Turns out her new friends are cannibals and they’re only interested in one thing.

The cannibal community seems to thrive on this meat heavy diet as for the most part they’re all oiled and buff body builder types. And none are more muscular than Miami Man (Jason Momoa) who appears to rule the roost, with his young daughter in tow.

Arlen, meanwhile isn’t fairing too well and with missing limbs, is in a precarious position. She’s not the kind of girl to sit around for long though so she fights her way out of Cannibal Camp. Just before she gets pecked to death by ravenous crows, she’s found by Hermit (see if you can guess who plays him) and is dropped off at a placed called Comfort.

Sofa so good.
Five months later and Arlen is still living at Comfort, a sort of Mad Max-style festival/commune where she’s been given a prosthetic leg. She’s not happy but she is in better shape than she was a few months back.

One day, while exploring, she bumps into one of the cannibals scavenging in a trash heap. Unfortunately for this cannibal, she’s one of the crew who took Arlen’s arm and leg, so it doesn’t end happily. With her is Miami Man’s kid and Arlen takes her back to Comfort.

At a rave later on, Comfort’s creator The Dream (a gorgeously seedy Keanu Reeves) makes a speech to the crowd and the Comfort community go wild. It’s like how I imagine Coachella is, it’s so damn photogenic. Arlen, in her blissed-out state (DRUGS), quickly loses sight of the kid and goes on a solo jaunt to the desert.

We’ve all been here am I right?
Here she bumps into an unsmiling Miami Man, who’s been frantically searching for his kid since she disappeared. During Arlen’s acid trip they seem to share a moment but the harsh morning light brings her down with a bump. Miami Man kidnaps her and forces her back towards Comfort where Hermit has told her the kid is. He threatens to kill Arlen if she doesn’t do as she’s told.

(Even though Jason Momoa is easily the most beautiful looking man on this planet I’m still reeling from some of his rape comments, made in 2011 and which I’ve only just heard about (this thread is an interesting read). And although I’m sure he’s not a rape apologist, I’m not quite ready to declare him unproblematic. In some ways my disappointment in him feeds into my dislike of his character, who’s an evil woman-killing cannibal).

Anywho.  Miami Man’s quest to find his daughter, the only thing he loves, is not paved with good fortune. As he and Arlen become uneasy travelling companions – and maybe something more – shit hits the fan again. Arlen finds herself back at Comfort, which is anything but to her, though she’s now feeling guilty having learned how much the kid means to her father. So she starts off on her own quest to find her – and if luck will allow it, plans to deliver her back home.

John Wick 3’s first teaser trailer made it look like something really special…
This is a two-hour film so none of what transpires throughout is the most speedy. Arlen spends some one-on-one time with The Dream who reveals more about Comfort as a business operation. He also knows of the whereabouts of the kid, who’s being taken care of by The Dream’s harem of beautiful ladies.

I guess the question on everybody’s lips is, will father and daughter be reunited? Will this story, described as a romantic black comedy horror-thriller have the happy ending Arlen is now hoping for?

Is everything as bleak as it seems in this land that humanity has forgotten?

My Thoughts

Don’t be in any doubt, this is a long film and it meanders at its own place. However, I genuinely loved it.

It’s beautiful looking with some stunning cinematography. The setting, although bleak, has a Fury Road (by way of the already mentioned Coachella) aesthetic that is hard to resist – and like Furiosa, Arlen has a burning desire to get out of her situation, by any means necessary.

Although this is a love story in part, it’s never gratuitous, most of the feeling is left unsaid. Arlen doesn’t need a man to take care of her but she wants one and that’s okay. We all have the right to love and be loved by another, even in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

At times this is gruesome, sometimes it’s slow but the atmosphere is thick. I just wanted Arlen to make it. There’s a scene about half way through that nearly broke my heart. Although Arlen is tough and keen on survival, she also has a vulnerability about her that makes her just like any other young woman.

As our central protagonist, Suki Waterhouse carries this film on her lovely shoulders and that is no mean feat. She’s obviously a total hottie but she can also act. Get it girl.

My Rating

4/5. Amirpour forever. Can’t wait to see what she does next.

We’ll also be talking about The Bad Batch on All Out of Bubblegum in the next few weeks, so keep an ear out for that.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (Film) Review

Image from the cover of AGWHAAN OST CD

World cinema is fun! And this week is definitely no exception, although sometimes the fun gets a little bogged down in different emotions, such as pity, rage, despair, hope and triumph.

My choice this week and I’m feeling pretty good about it. Incidentally, this film has been on my list for a while but became more pressing when I read this review. I mean, any review that talks about fuck boys is always going to be alright with me.

But to my own thoughts.


A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)

Director: Ana Lily Amirpour (who also wrote the film)
Stars: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh

IMDB Synopsis: In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire.

My Review:

I’m kind of sad that the synopsis of this film and also the original film poster mentions that this is a Vampire movie. I mean, it’s not a shock when this is revealed, but I think it might have been a nice touch to go in not really knowing much about The Girl. Not that we know anything, mind, beyond her penchant for thick black eyeliner (my kind of girl), lipstick and Breton stripes.

Rebel with a Cause, we just don’t know what yet

Anyway, that’s a minor thing. We begin the film gazing at James Dean-alike Arash as he leans against a fence, slowly smoking a cigarette. For the uninitiated, I am a massive sucker for this aesthetic on men or women, shoot it in black and white and I’m yours forever.

Arash is standing around and I can’t be sure of his motivation, though he does either steal or rescue a cat and walks off into the next scene with it slung happily over his shoulder. I don’t blame you cat.

Next stop is Arash’s home, where an old man sits in a grubby front room area and injects something into his toes. He doesn’t look like your average junkie so there might be a rational explanation for this but when The King of the Fuck Boys* (presumably) walks in, we are illuminated to just how bad the old man’s condition is. He’s also Arash’s father and owes Saeed (Fuck Boy) a lot of money.

Saeed plays threateningly with the cat for a bit then makes a speech about how Hossein is just a ‘normal man’ who needs ‘medicine’ to get through life. Riiiiight. Then he takes Arash’s car which is his pride and joy and Arash punches a wall.

Alas, this is life and Arash must keep on swimming so off he goes to his landscaping job. He’s called indoors to tune in the TV by the attractive daughter of his employers and under the guise of being gentlemanly, he ushers her out of her bedroom (because being alone would be inappropriate). Really, he’s clocked a nice pair of diamond earrings that might just get him his car back…

Meanwhile, Saeed meets with The Princess, a beautiful prostitute called Shaydah (Rome Shadanloo) and surprisingly, doesn’t treat her very nicely. He also rips her off for her cut of earnings like a true pig. While being a dick in Arash’s car, he spots something out of the corner of his eye and freaks out, even though he doesn’t know what it was. We know though, we know it good, it’s a figure in a hajib and it looks kind of serious.

Dance like nobody’s watching

We follow the figure and it leads us down into a basement room where a fucking cool girl is dancing. I mean there are few things I love better than black kohl eyeliner (yes, even at the advanced age of 37) and this chick rocks it. She’s effortlessly cool and at first glance I already know she’s going to be one of my favourite movie heroines in recent years.

Fuck the no make-up look. Fuck it all to Hell

It will also become clear soon that this is our mystery figure and I like this scene because she’s painted as a normal person with normal interests, like music, fashion and pop culture. I also like that we get to witness The Girl making up her face. Now I’m quite sure most women would identify with the ritual of meticulously applying the warpaint before going out to do business, be that an ordinary day at the office, a date or vigilante justice.

Walking back to his apartment later on, Saeed bumps into The Girl. First of all there is a face off and we can’t be sure where it’s going to go but Saeed does what most men do when faced with a female in almost any situation, assumes she wants sex. So she goes home with him under the illusion he’s about to get some.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night _saeed

Things don’t quite pan out the way Saeed planned and I’m not going to go into the ins and out. This film is very much worth a viewing of your own but let’s just say we now have an idea of what The Girl is and how she rolls.

In the aftermath of Saeed’s meeting with The Girl, Arash gets his car back, plus a case full of drugs and cash. Which is helpful. The Princess, meanwhile, is being hassled by Hossein, who seems to have a soft spot for the ladies as well as H. Oh, and don’t think The Girl hasn’t noticed Hossein’s behaviour, because she totally has.

Why did the Vampire cross the road? To fuck up the dude on the other side… obvs

It’s a shame Hossein is such a dick nose, because Arash is actually not a bad guy, despite appearances. This isn’t immediately apparent when he’s selling X in da club to rich kids but he is. Honest. He also crashes and burns with the rich daughter from earlier on, who rejects his advances.

On the way home, Arash meets The Girl for himself and is so charming in his drugged up state that he seems to throw her intentions completely. I mean, I expected her to eat him there and then. What follows is a scene so heart wrenchingly beautiful that I’m not even going to talk about it.

Courting, Vamp style

The Girl has also commandeered a skateboard from a future fuck boy (not after she’s finished with him though), and there’s a shot of her skating down the street with her hajib flowing out behind her that blew my tiny mind.

I might leave the rest up to you now, to be honest but along the way Arash and The Girl form a stronger bond; The Princess meets The Girl and TG inevitably ends up dishing out more nuggets of vigilante goodness, which may or may not send the course of Arash’s life crashing in a completely unexpected direction.

You’re interested though, aren’t you?

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night_the cat
“We’re all going on a… Summer holiday…”

To the questions section! Because no review of mine is complete without a series of wills/wheres/hows and whys, amiright?

So… Will TG and Arash live happily ever after? Will Hossein sort himself out for his son’s sake? Will anyone ever truly appreciate that poor damned cat? How did The Girl even become a vampire?

Should I buy myself a new Breton top because it’s such a chic, crisp look? Also, should I get a long-board? Some of these questions will be answered, some will be left open to your own interpretation and some simply don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Enjoy!

Alternative poster by Levente Szabo

My Thoughts: This film is the nuts. Written and directed by a woman, which shouldn’t be a thing of note in this day and age, but still totally is, it’s a feminist piece, in that all bad men get what for. Even the young lad skirting around a future in douche baggery is handed his arse. The title is great, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night – think about it, have you ever walked home from the pub on a Friday night and feared for your personal safety? Of course you have and that’s what The Girl is, she’s the saviour that cleans the streets so you don’t have to feel that way. Brilliant, non? It’s poetic, inspiring and I fucking loved it.

Yes, I can be very generous when it comes to rating the films I watch, sometimes for the flimsiest reasons (like I love Simon Pegg) but honestly, this is a true work of art. It has been very well received because it’s beautifully filmed, fantastically acted and it’s lack of gratuitous violence and gore is a massive plus, if you ask me (even though I love that shit). It could be the B&W aesthetic that lends it the subtlety. Whatever it is, it works like a (bad) dream.

There are several stand out scenes that will stay with me for a long time – two of which I have mentioned above. I also like the main characters and love that even the good guy is flawed. They’re both good at heart but capable of terrible behaviour and the final act, which I shan’t spoil for you, is extremely hopeful and romantic.

Can we just quickly talk about the cat? She’s a terrible actor, staring out of shot at the action going on behind the scenes, almost derailing the whole film. At one point I swear she strains her neck to sniff at the boom engineer or something. Go back to acting school, cat!

My Rating: 5/5 – an absolute must see.

I wonder what Jill thinks of this one? Let’s go see shall we?!

*I’m going to stop saying fuck boy now.