Momoa and Waterhouse in The Bad Batch

 

How do you know you’ve taken a wrong turn on your journey?

Maybe if you happen upon a preacher testifying on top of a giant boom box? What about an ex-con missing an arm and a leg? Perhaps a knife-wielding beast of a man, strewn with tattoos, who finds serenity drawing and painting to pass the time.

What about all of it in the same place? Yeah – definitely a sign you made a wrong turn back around Albuquerque.

“The Bad Batch” is a designation given to a class of criminal all interred before a great fall of civilization – they are caught, branded, and kicked into a massive, fenced-off wasteland with nothing but a jug of water. A bad-batcher named Arlynne (Suki Waterhouse) manages to walk straight into the path of a band of cannibals – a sort of tribe within The Bad Batch. She is captured, her right arm and right leg severed, cooked, and consumed…all inside of the film’s first fifteen minutes.

Eventually, short two limbs, she manages to escape the cannibals and is dropped at the gates of Comfort; a sort of post-apocalyptic cult compound. After she is taken in and given a prosthetic leg, she happens upon two more cannibals outside of Comfort’s gates. She kills the woman, and takes in the little girl.

It doesn’t take long for the child’s father, Joe (Jason Momoa) to come looking for her…and with Arlynne actually out for her best interest, the two strike-up an uneasy friendship.

THE BAD BATCH is violent without actually being gory. It’s romantic with only passing references to sex and affection. It’s beautiful while showing image after image featuring all manner of ugliness. The story takes what Blanche DuBois said about the kindness of strangers and twists it into a big ‘ol kinky knot.

Director Ana Lily Amirpour follows-up her kickass breakthrough A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT with something that is just as sexy, just as dangerous, and much, much grander. There are no alleys to cut down in this movie…no safety in numbers…no dark roads to park where predators might never see us. Amirpour demonstrates a mastery of the threat wide open spaces present – how frightening one dot on the horizon can be. She likewise knows how calamitous pure silence can be, and that for every killer song on her soundtrack, she can evoke just as much emotion from us by making characters interact without a single sound.

This is a story that offers us Ace of Bass in place of “Tubular Bells”, and blots of acid in lieu of holy communion. If all of that sounds fucked-up, well, it is. But gorgeously so.

THE BAD BATCH is a gloriously harsh sensory experience. Pack your provisions and wander the desert behind it…if you dare.