Not a typical indie film or small film I would normally review. Big names in the cast, marketing campaign, but with a budget of six million dollars and theatrical release a year after debuting at a film festival we can make an exception. Plus I have been waiting a damn year to see this stupid film. It shows that indie filmmakers can break out. That the visual medium of film is more accessible and affordable than ever. Once a good old boy network or rich kids (Howard Hughes) with a bullet proof ceiling. A talented person with a good eye and story can get noticed. More important a good script can raise funding and attract big named actors.
From the trailers, it looked like it was going to be more of a grindhouse film. But little blood showed up on screen. The director mostly did the butchering out of view, think of the scene in 'Children of the Corn' (1984) where they force the hand of the restaurant patron into the blender (covered my eyes, I was ten. Took me twenty years to watch that movie again and realize there is nothing scary to see except blood splatter on the wall. No fingers flying, no gross imagery but in my head) so those of you that cover your eyes during scary scenes, this movie might give you nightmares. If this film was released in the 80's it would be PG.
Another way directors get more out of their resources is to shoot on location. Being filmed in California the actors weren't acting that they were in a miserable place, they were. High temperatures, bright sun, and wind gave the film a level of realism and believably that some actors can't deliver on a sound stage. During filming 'Alien' (1979) the scenes in the ventilation shafts were brutal for the actors. Hot lights, no air flow, small space but on film audiences took the hot, sweating, tired, exhausted actors as being terrified. In 'Spider Baby' (1967) the high heat during shooting made the cast seem truly insane. At the same time shooting on location gives the director a great chance to expand the scene. No restriction of a sound stage or partial set up. The location can almost be another character in the movie.
This movie will not have huge box office receipts. Many will be disappointed by the lack of gore, boobies, and special effects. Others will stay away due to the perceived notion this is a grindhouse flick. One can blame it on the advertising. Many movies have been DOA due to the marketing department not understanding the movie. Other times movies don't know what they want to be. One famous example is Don Coscarelli's 'Kenny & Company' (1976). The movie was a great film but not fitting into any one category, drama, comedy, or horror the studio didn't believe in it. Marketing didn't understand it. But it's a good movie. Bad Batch doesn't know what it wants to be. The story is about a brutal apocalyptic wasteland where there are no rules except survive, but also wants to be about a fathers love for his child, or the strong feminist who can survive anything in a male dominated society, or the sexy girl in distress, or like the trailer suggests a grindhouse film. It is a visually entertaining film that takes a few detours but worth a watch, but if you're expecting something from this film it will leave you disappointed.