- by Tom Dumarey
In recent years, the best thing you could do when encountering a movie starring Nicolas Cage, was to avert your eyes and run away in the opposite direction. Saying he has starred in a lot of seriously shitty movies, is almost an understatement. The most remarkable thing about those movies was how incredibly consistent he was in picking the biggest turds.
But it’s when you find yourself watching Cage’s blood-splattered face with a cigarette between his lips that he just lit on a still burning, severed head that you think that yup, Mandy is definitely something else and a very welcome addition to his filmography. Written and directed by Panos Cosmatos, Mandy is a blood-drenched fever dream, an acid trip to hell and back that comes with a very intense Cage and a menacing, synth-driven soundtrack that comes courtesy of the late Jóhann Jóhannsson.
Cage stars as Red Miller, a lumberjack who enjoys a quiet life in the woods with his girlfriend Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). That is, until Mandy catches the eye of a cult leader named Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) who calls upon a couple of leather-clad demons to kidnap her and make her one of their own. Having no need for Red, he ends up being tortured and has to witness something no man should have to watch. Following that there is a scene where we see Cage howl like an animal while downing a bottle of liquor in his underwear. I don’t know if there is a word that conveys something can be hilarious and deeply emotional at the same time but if there is, it should be applied to this scene. After that he puts on some pants, makes his own axe and goes out for bloody revenge.
The story not only reads like something a metal band would come up with for a concept album, the movie also feels like an album. Title cards that look like band logos split the movie in different parts and the way scenes start and stop is not that different from how songs would play out. Hell, the movie even starts out to the tones of King Crimson't 'Starless'. Throw in some extreme color palettes, a continually foreboding atmosphere on top of the batshit crazy story and you are looking at a pretty impressive movie. Granted, it would have been even better if they had cut out 20-30 minutes. As it is, ‘Mandy’ runs over two hours, which feels a bit unnecessary. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a hell of a lot to enjoy here. Unconventional? Fuck yeah. Badass? Very.