Although Ana Lily Amirpour’s new The Bad Batch has much higher production values, her A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a tough act to follow, and Batch is a bit of a letdown even if you haven’t seen Amirpour’s stellar debut. Trading in Girl’s Leone and Jarmusch influences for Oz-sploitation, Batch follows young Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) after she’s sentenced to a lawless, fenced-off section of Texas — think Brian Trenchard-Smith’s Turkey Shoot or especially Dead-End Drive-In — where she promptly loses her right arm and leg to cannibals led by Miami Man (Khal Drago himself, Jason Momoa). Arlen makes her way to Comfort, a perma-rave camp led by The Dream (Keanu Reeves), while also befriending Miami Man’s daughter Honey (Jayda Fink).
There are lovely moments, including a terrific drug trip and a return of Girl’s ritualistic application of eye makeup, but while Amirpour is terrific visual stylist, she’s yet to develop a strong storytelling style, and not much really happens. The Bad Batch’s other issue is Waterhouse’s so-so screen presence. What was underplaying in the case of Girl’s great Sheila Vand here becomes a personality void that professional model Waterhouse’s runway-friendly looks can’t compensate for, and Momoa practically steals the picture from her. Batch isn’t bad, but Amirpour’s capable of so much more.
The Bad Batch
Opens Friday at the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission.