In 2014, a black and white indie vampire movie called A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, generating very positive buzz at film festivals around the world. Described by its director Ana Lily Amirpour as an “Iranian Vampire Spaghetti Western,” the movie immediately put her on the map, and we are all excited for her next venture.
Born in England but of Iranian descent, Amirpour doesn’t really make what you’d call “Iranian cinema.” In our collective minds, Iranian films tend to make us think of Abbas Kiarostami’s work, or more recently of Asghar Farhadi’s films (a director who was just nominated for an Academy Award, whose trip to Los Angeles has become very complicated); films that are very much rooted in Iranian culture.
Amirpour’s sensibilities definitely lie in her Iranian roots, but her idea of filmmaking is much more anchored in the western world, having moved to the United States as a child. This makes a very interesting mélange of influences. After A Girl Walks Home at Night garnered worldwide praise, it is no surprise to see her tackle a more ambitious project with a star studded cast and a bonkers premise for her silver screen follow-up.
The Bad Batch takes place in a dystopian future (even if Amirpour recently said “I think it’s now. Look at the world. I don’t think it’s farfetched”), and follows Arlen, a young girl who is captured by a cannibalistic tribe roaming the desert. Eventually, Arlen falls in love with one of her cannibal captors. It’s definitely the most bizarre case of Stockholm syndrome that we’ve ever heard of.
Newcomer Suki Waterhouse (British model turned actress) plays the part of Arlen, and seems to have the right amount of innocence required for the challenging role. It also helps that she is joined by an amazing supporting cast that includes Jason Momoa as a brooding cannibal (Momoa does brood very well), the massively underrated Giovanni Ribisi, Keanu Reeves as a cult leader called “The Dream,” and Jim Carrey as “The Hermit” (good luck spotting him in the trailer).
The film already received positive reviews when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and people have been quick to find metaphors in the film pertaining to the state of today’s world. While Amirpour’s may not have consciously meant for her film to mirror reality, she doesn’t mind in the least that comparisons are being made between The Bad Batch and the current global political climate. In fact, she recently told rogerebert.com, “Now it’s weirdly topical and suddenly this anti-Trump movie! I wrote it before any of this shit was happening so I guess it’s just a perk.”
Even if the political message is unintentional, The Bad Batch is sure to be a very powerful film nonetheless, a “horror” film like we haven’t seen in years. Let’s just hope it doesn’t rely entirely on poetic imagery though, but rather on concrete storytelling.
The Bad Batch hits theaters June 23rd, and we have high hopes that it will be well worth the wait.
Watch the trailer here.