Director: Panos Cosmatos
Writer: Panos Cosmatos, Aaron Stewart-Ahn
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache
God bless Nicolas Cage.
Long after many of his contemporaries have faded into obscurity, Cage is in his fourth decade of acting, showing no signs of slowing down or giving anything less than 100% in his performances, even if they happen to be in a weird, low budget horror film that will probably be seen by a fraction of the audience that turned out for The Rock or Face/Off.
In Mandy, he plays Red Miller, a lumberjack who leads a quiet life with his artist girlfriend Mandy. Mandy becomes the target of Sand, the leader of a religious cult group, who orders his followers to kidnap her. When Sand’s attempts to seduce Mandy go poorly, he murders her in gruesome fashion in front of Red and leaves him for dead. Of course, Red does not die. Consumed with a vengeful fury, he fetches The Reaper, a cross bow from his friend Caruthers. One thing leads to another and Red consumes a lot of LSD and cocaine and goes on a mind-bending quest for revenge against Sand and the Children of the New Dawn.
I must admit. I’m not familiar with Panos Cosmatos’ previous work. I haven’t seen Beyond the Black Rainbow but apparently if you have, you know what you’re signing up for with Mandy. It’s a highly stylized revenge movie, in which you get the full Nicolas Cage performance. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen Wicker Man. He’s soaked head to toe in blood, he’s screaming at the top of his lungs and he’s wielding a chainsaw and cleaving hippies cultists in two. If this sounds like something you want to see, you’re not alone.
Mandy is a fill that is all about style over substance and it aims to consume and absorb the viewer in its vivid presentation. I watched the film at home, by myself in the dead of night, when I was exhausted and half asleep. The film’s lurid red lighting filled my living room and the musical score and Cage’s screams blared at my face. It’s not a bad way to watch the movie. Ideally though, I think you probably need to be on something and watching this thing with a hundred like-minded folk in an arthouse cinema at a film festival. That’s optimal Mandy viewing.
To be honest, the film has the pace of treacle and is heavily indulgent in its own weirdness. So this film is really only for you if you understand what you’re getting into and are willing to go with it. Be prepared for scenes that run for seventeen minutes when there’s maybe a single page of dialogue for the sequence. Be prepared to be disoriented by the lighting, the music and the drug addled haze that the characters are consumed in.
It’s definitely not for everyone. I think you’ll probably know if Mandy is your thing pretty quickly. Probably right around the time the Cheddar Goblin appears.