In this action/thriller from director Panos Cosmatos, Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) and Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough) lived happily in the Pacific Northwest wilderness in 1983 until the place they call home was destroyed by a religious cult. Red avenges the murder of the love of his life by hunting down Jeremiah Sand and the rest of the sect. Also starring Bill Duke, Linus Roache, Linus Roache, and Olwen Fouere.~Kyle Lavigne
Nicolas Cage’s best film of recent memory is this year’s MANDY. An acid drenched bizarre horror fantasy, this is a must see film for those looking for something different. Director and cowriter Panos Cosmatos delivers a deliciously deep cut of genre while retaining an arthouse sensibility. Trippy visuals, demons, animated sequences, and glorious mayhem assault the screen while you try to figure out if somebody laced your drink with LSD.
In 1983, a stand in for the fantasy genre’s ahistorical a-long-time-ago, logger Red (a determined and tough Cage) is living an idyllic existence with his heavy metal loving artist wife Mandy (an ethereal Andrea Riseborough). One day, a demonic cult leader named Jeremiah (creepy Linus Roache) takes an interest in Mandy and orders his minions to conjure some demons and kidnap her. Despite being dosed with a powerful hallucinogen, Mandy rejects Jeremiah, and Red will soon have to embark on a quest into the darkness for revenge.
It’s not the plot that makes this film so compelling, although it’s well executed and fun. No, it’s Cosmatos and cinematographer Benjamin Loeb’s complete adherence to slathering the screen in weird lighting and psychedelic imagery. Reminiscent of Dario Argento’s famous SUSPIRIA, this is not a conventional looking film in the slightest. Besides the visuals, Cosmatos uses the common fantasy framework for his narrative but melds it onto a more modern time, creating a pleasingly unique fairytale mood. Keep an eye out for the appearance of a goblin. Then there’s Johann Johannsson’s droning metal inspired score. Beautiful and dark, the late Johannsson’s music is a perfect match for this ultra moody flick. Effects and action sequences are thrilling, allowing for gore and well executed stunts. The film makes time for both chainsaws and majestic battle-axe battles, too as the costume and prop departments shine. Throw in fan favorite character actors Bill Duke and Richard Brake in grin inducing cameos and some cool metal fantasy inspired animated sequences and it’s one heck of a ride.
MANDY is a blast, however it is decidedly outside the mainstream. Much effort was placed on making this film look and feel different from the norm, even though the plot is pretty straightforward. Hallucinogenic, violent, and beautiful, it’s an acid trip down into the depths of arthouse horror and fantasy. Unapologetically unconventional while still being entertaining is rarely pulled off so well. Even though it’s closest in tone to Ridley Scott’s LEGEND, it is it’s inversion and embracing of the genre that makes it so memorable. Recommended for metalheads, fantasy enthusiasts, fans of subversive cinema, and those who’ve sampled psychedelic wares.
How do you describe Mandy? That one word title simply isn't enough.
Let's begin with a disclaimer before giving you a rundown of what Mandy is... I'm an artist myself, a movie-lover with over 1100 films in my collection. In both instances, I'm also a "basic" guy. My all-time favorite artists, outside HR Giger, are more likely to be found in the pages of comic books than hanging on museum walls. You'll find multiple copies of films like Alien, Aliens, or Predator than a single Ingmar Bergman flick.
Keep this in mind when reading what is written next.
Mandy is beautiful. It's gorgeous. It's breathtaking. It's a revenge film that took all those mentioned prior and has made art house palatable for the masses.
If you're like me and use the majority of your film-time as release, as indulgence, you're going to enjoy this intrusion into your typical fare of art, metaphor, and reflection. None of it replaces any of the story, it enhances it in ways you never thought was necessary, but leaves you wanting more films exactly like it.
At its heart, Mandy is horror, action-revenge, and drama, all packaged in one of Nic Cage's best performances. He runs the gamut to extremes in ways only he can do, even pulling some of the finest psychosis since Vampire's Kiss (giving us the meme-worthy, "YOU RIPPED MY SHIRT!" in the process).
Panos Cosmatos, son of Tombstone director George Cosmatos, has truly made a modern day arthouse masterpiece that speaks to the masses that fall on either side of the cinema line. Mandy shouldn't be missed, no matter which group you throw your hat in with.
I generally am not keen on newer horror films or, rather, am just extremely picky but Mandy, while not a full-on genre film, is definitely one of the best and most pleasing films to come from the genre in the past few years. If one imagines the aesthetic of Hellraiser meeting the general sentiment of Mad Max then he or she may have an idea of what Mandy is about … ? Either way, it's an intensely satisfying movie that delivers every which way that it should and then some. Nicholas Cage gives the best performance he has showcased since Wild At Heart, at least for me personally, and I cannot recommend Mandy enough for those looking to be engulfed in a surreal, dark and violent world.