“Beyond this fence is no longer the territory of Texas. That hereafter no person within the territory beyond this fence is a resident of the United States of America or shall be acknowledged, recognized or governed by the laws and governing bodies therein. Good luck.”
That’s the sign we are greeted with as a young girl is dumped in the desert wasteland in the dystopian future of the United States. Arlen (Suki Waterhouse), one of thousands of Americans deemed unacceptable to society, is captured by a savage band of cannibals, chained up while two of her limbs are brutally hacked off to feed cannibals known as ‘The Bridge People’, all to the soundtrack of Ace of Base’s All That She Wants. A brutal opening scene which left me hiding behind my handbag, Amirpour makes no apologies with her graphic content.
Arlen soon realises that to escape the fate of the other chained up victims, she will have to think quick in this dog eat dog world. Once she’s escaped, she is found by a hermit (Jim Carrey – although you’d never know) and taken along to ‘Comfort’, a village housing the outcasts, elderly, infirm, and mentally disabled, governed like a cult by its leader Rockwell (Keanu Reeves). Vengeful from her loss of limbs, Arlen wanders back out into the dessert where she finds a Bridge person and daughter scrounging the wasteland. Shooting the mother, she takes the young girl back with her to Comfort. The film then centres around the girl’s father Joe (Jason Momoa), heavily pumped and tattoo clad, complete with meat cleaver and motorbike, hellbent on getting his kid back. He finds Arlen in the desert and steals her prosthetic leg to get her to help him – which is where the bad taste love story begins.
The Bad Batch has very little dialogue… in fact, its several scenes in before we even hear Arlen speak. It’s gritty and grotesque, a spaghetti western with a banging soundtrack and celeb cameos. But limb hacking aside, what makes this Vice produced feature scary is its political message. It’s an imagined America with a vision of where the real United States could go if things are left unchecked. Now while Amirpour probably isn’t suggesting that Trump thinks that those who don’t match the American dream image should go chew on inhumanely sourced baby back ribs, it’s still a scary plate of thoughts to be fed.
In all honesty, I didn’t like this film. But, I didn’t like it in the same way that I didn’t like Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight – it is far too gruesome for my liking, but it doesn’t mean that this isn’t an example of great filmmaking. Amirpour’s film is very bold, brash and well-pieced together, and in many places visually stunning – in part, she does in fact remind me of Tarantino.
Savage dystopian fairy-tale of a cannibal falling for their next meal – Ana Lily Amirpour’s The Bad Batch is gritty, gruesome and geared up for the Vice generation.
Reviewed at the Venice Film Festival with Loose-Lips.com