Confident But Dumb

If you want a good feminist cannibal movie, see Raw.

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

The Bad Batch
August 3–6

RPL film theatre

Watched The Bad Batch in early July. I was unimpressed, so I tweeted the following hot take: “#TheBadBatch is the worst kind of specialty film: overconfident, yet devoid of ideas.”

A couple of weeks later, I got a response from The Bad Batch’s writer/director herself, Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night). She was succinct: “Says you”.

Never mind Amirpour was scouring through weeks-old tweets. I was going to ignore The Bad Batch’s release in Regina. Now, I feel compelled to review it.

In a post-Trump America, a statuesque ex-convict Arlen (model Suki Waterhouse) finds herself in a no-man’s land south of the Texas border. Soon she’s captured by a band of body builder cannibals (that old chestnut), a setback that literally costs her an arm and a leg. Arlen manages to escape and finds shelter in another community-slash-cult, this one ruled by a techno-loving Keanu Reeves.

Arlen has revenge in her mind, so she kidnaps a cannibal’s child. It’s all very stupid and senseless, like an avant-garde mad-libs flick.

There’s a lot of back-story that Amirpour hints at, but chooses not to share. This would be a valid approach if something more interesting was happening on screen. Not the case. The outrageous setup feels pointless: somehow, the filmmaker makes hedonism look boring.

There is nothing to be gained from watching The Bad Batch. The barely-there plot and poorly sketched characters (Giovanni Ribisi, Jim Carrey and Keanu are wasted in one-note roles) make the whole endeavour a chore. The one successful aspect, the scenery, can only carry the movie so far. Much like its protagonist, The Bad Batch believes entitlement can get you through the day. Fat chance. ❧