Some movies are more of an experience than a story, Mandy is one of those movies. I like challenging cinema and with a lot of movies these days trying to appeal to as many as possible it’s kind of refreshing to see something a little bit bonkers.
Director Panos Cosmatos had my curiosity with Beyond the Black Rainbow, now he has my attention.
Mandy starts off as a surreal dream and ends up a feverish nightmare.
Nicolas Cage as the aptly named Red Miller, which is as much of a name as a literal description by the end of the movie. Nicolas Cage is in full Nicolas Cage mode for the whole movie, he’s an actor who has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous in his career. His performance in this movie is approaching one of his great roles. Whether it’s Cage being low key and bristling with earthy energy or covered in blood head to toe snorting a mound of cocaine off a broken bit of glass he delivers.
Andrea Riseborough as title character Mandy Bloom. She has put in some solid performances in the brilliant Hidden and quirky Death of Stalin. In Mandy she is like some sort of metal nature goddess with a dark past.
Linus Roache as Jeremiah Sand, the creepy cult leader delivers a performance dripping in ego, charisma and sleaze. You’ll remember him from his supporting roles in Chronicles of Riddick or King Ecbert of Wessex in Vikings but this character will stick in your mind long after the movie is over.
It is presented almost naively in its simplicity, Red and Mandy live in an idyllic Forrest far from other people and have carved out their own paradise together. That is until Mandy catches the eye of Jeremiah Sand and his cult. Jeremiah becomes obsessed and decides he has to have Mandy for himself.
Demonic Hellraiseresque Ceno-Bikers are summoned, bad shit happens and Red goes full Nic Cage for the rest of the movie.
Mandy might be too arty for the gorehounds and to gory for the Arthouse set. It’s pace for the first 45 minutes or so is glacial and dreamlike but might not be compelling enough until it goes full batshit for the remaining run time. It’s story is so basic you aren’t going to get more than the broadest brushstrokes to suggest the characters and the world they are in. It’s overly saturated, heavy on the film grain and so dingy you can barely make out whats on screen. For me this is an interesting artistic choice of the director for some it will make it unwatchable.
The Good Stuff
This is like an airbrushed painting on a 70’s panel van come to life. It is often beautiful with painterly compositions, lush deep color pallets and Heavy Metal style animated inserts. Much like Beyond the Black Rainbow, Mandy feels so authentic to the time period the director Time Traveled back to the 80’s to make his film and then buried it in a Time Capsule to be unearthed decades later.
The action and violence is right at home in the Grindhouse genre, it’s visceral and kind of absurdly amazing.
The soundtrack is period appropriate synthwave by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson who’s haunting moody scores drove Sicario and The Arrival.
It’s a work of art, what else can I say.
Oh yeah and there is a Nic Cage Chainsaw fight.
You’ll like it if you enjoy:
80’s classic horror and Grindhouse movies.
Film as an artform.
Skip it if you:
Aren’t up for the unexplainable weirdness.
Not keen on creepy violent movies no matter how artistic.
Expect an action packed thrill a minute experience
Out Now Digital release