The Bad Batch (2016)

Impression: I am not a huge fan of horror, and usually not a huge fan of ultra-violence in movies either. So there had to be a strong reason for me to get excited about a movie tagged a “dystopian cannibal love story”  and drive over an hour to go see it. And there was, it was directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, of  A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night fame. I loved her previous film, for its sensibility and just general sense of weirdness in an alternate universe she created. It was black and white and tagged as “the first Iranian vampire Western.” The Bad Batch turned out to not be a horror, but definitely a violent dystopia, produced on a much higher budget, with much higher profile actors (some credited, some not), and it’s own strange aesthetic and logic. I feel like her movies have to be taken the same way Baz Luhrman’s movies are consumed, not as a film, but an experience: there may be a plot, but it is secondary to the full world and atmosphere the director creates. Here the story follows a girl, who is literally broken and butchered, but does what she has to in order to survive, and find her place in a very brutal and strange world. Sure, the film can be read as a metaphor for life and surviving hardship, or choosing to build something new when faced with bad choices, but I think more than anything it is just a vision of an alternate world, and a chance to be transported into someone else’s vision. Keanu Reeves has never been creepier or better cast (and never worn a mustache in a movie before according to the director!) as a world creator and a cult leader of “The Dream.” And Jim Carey is completely unrecognizable in a silent role.  This is definitely NOT an action movie, it is slow moving and moody, much like her previous film. I think I still prefer her first film, just because I had never seen anything like it,  but this one is also very original and quirky, and full of creative energy.

Facts: A girl gets dropped off in a no-man’s land dystopian desert, where she is first faced with a brutal world run by bodybuilder cannibals. only to escape to a seemingly more  kind world of daily lazing about the desert and nightly rave parties. Soon, she discovers something nefarious is going on there too.

Extra: The fact that I got to see this film at a sneak preview, right after an hour and a half live interview with a very funny and entertaining Ana Lily Amirpour may  have made me like this movie more than, I otherwise would have. She was full of hilarious anecdotes, and very no-nonsense thoughts on life, and amazingly creative and badass.

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