RLJE FILMS (2018)
Director: Panos Cosmatos
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Bill Duke, Richard Brake, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouere, Sam Louwyck, Hayley Saywell
Beyond the Black Rainbow director Panos Cosmatos returns after an eight-year directorial hiatus with Mandy – a thriller/mystery/horror set in 1983 including a violent cult and a violent Nicolas Cage. If you thought Beyond the Black Rainbow was odd, strap yourself in for a bloody, psychedelic, heavy metal-themed ride…
…and a horrendous movie.
Red (Cage) and Mandy (Riseborough) lead an isolated, but comfortable, life in the woods of the Pacific Northwest – it’s like a hippies dream. When a merciless cult surface (presumably from the bowels of hell), led by Jeremiah Sand (Roache), and cause unimaginable pain to the pair, Red takes it upon himself to settle the score – and more.
Mandy has been described as the visual embodiment of a black heavy metal album, and I can see where that idea would come from. This also seems like the acid-laced dreams of a Games Workshop disciple – trippy effects, strange demonlike minions (not the yellow kind), massive axes and plenty of WOOD. However, none of that combined makes this a good movie.
Nicolas Cage has been involved in some curious projects in recent years and this is possibly the most bizarre. He gets a chance to let loose his now trademark ‘craziness’ and a few moments of very decent acting also, he’s clearly a step above everyone else. Ken Barlow’s son, Linus Roache, is the epitome of OTT acting and is painful to watch – whether purposeful or not. Nobody else has an awful lot else to do except drool, pull ‘weird’ faces and lustfully worship their leader.
The movie is set in 1983 and Cosmatos obviously opts for the 80s-esque visuals. Colour-drenched hazes harken back to decades long gone and, in fact, colour is a big aspect of the overall cinematography. If anything, the movie is at least interesting to look at. I get the overall point of Mandy and its two-act structure, however, the first act is slow and not particularly interesting as we are introduced to our protagonists and the antagonists are slowly introduced, whereas the second act just throws everything (and probably the kitchen sink) into showing off as much blood, gore, and violence as possible – it gets a bit repetitive and tedious eventually. “How many cool looking ways can Cage slaughter gimps?” Sigh. Not even a synth-smashing score from the late, great Jóhann Jóhannsson can help Mandy.
It’s not all awful (it is), there’s a genuinely decent scene involving a traumatised Cage in just his pants wailing on the toilet, though my mind immediately went to the memes that are probably already out there. I may have been underwhelmed by the action/violence, but there is one badass chainsaw fight that is by far the highlight of the movie.
This strange and trippy romp through tragedy and redemption is bizarre, drawn out, unintentionally humorous and just not a good movie – visuals and chainsaw fight aside. This seemingly exists as a vehicle for Cage to be ‘wild’. Had Nicolas Cage not been in Mandy, this would’ve been cast aside without a second, third or thousandth thought.
September 20th 2018