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'The Bad Batch' TIFF 2016 Review: Welcome to the post-apocalyptic cannibal party

September 13, 2016Ben MK

It's a well-worn trope that's been used and reused time and time again in horror movies — A girl wanders off alone into the middle of nowhere, only to encounter ravenous hillbillies, or a pack of murderous marauders. Bloody chaos inevitably ensues. But in the gleefully offbeat The Bad Batch, writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour puts her own unique twist on things, with unpredictable, genre-bending results.

Boasting an eclectic cast that also includes Jason Momoa, Keanu Reeves and Jim Carrey — playing characters credited only as Miami Man, the Dream and the Hermit — Amirpour's followup to her critically acclaimed feature film debut, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, follows Arlen (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' Suki Waterhouse), a girl who finds herself chased across a post-apocalyptic desert by cannibals, only to be captured and have two of her limbs served up for BBQ. After a harrowing escape, Arlen winds up in the off-the-map town of Comfort, where she encounters a charismatic cult leader and embarks on a mission of revenge and redemption.

Make no mistake, The Bad Batch is a film with a B-movie premise; however, what Amirpour does with that premise is anything but B-grade. Bouncing between horror, indie, exploitation and romance, the film subverts audience expectations at every turn, serving up a deliberately paced, oftentimes dialogue-free, psychedelic trip through a barren wasteland, guided by a soundtrack that veers from electronic dance music to the likes of Ace of Base and Culture Club. It's a place that's undeniably fascinating to visit, but you probably wouldn't want to live there.

The Bad Batch is receiving its North American premiere as part of TIFF 2016's Vanguard programme. Its runtime is 1 Hr. 55 Min.

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