Mandy Movie Review: Nicolas Cage in a bloody, freak fest
And now for something completely … well different. Nicolas Cage’s latest film Mandy is a wild, captivating trip. More specifically it’s an acid trip filled with hallucinatory visuals and an otherworldly vibe as if torn from the pages of a cosmic horror novel.
Cage plays Red Miller, a lumberjack living out in the backwoods with his wife Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). Much of the first half hour are tender moments between Red and Mandy. They share quiet conversations; you get the feeling that there’s nothing they can’t honestly tell each other. Their mundane lives are suddenly endangered when a crew of cult nut-jobs passing through town become fixated on Mandy.
Director Panos Cosmatos presents an eerie kaleidoscope of horror film influences. After the quieter, dream-like first section, the tension ratchets ups into a psychological thriller. The story takes religious fanaticism to a disturbing extreme. It’s in the second half when Mandy truly becomes Nicolas Cage’s film. Set in the 80’s, Mandy ascribes gory horror from decades past including references to Crystal Lake. Get your hockey mask ready. There will be blood. Lots of it.
Even though the story itself isn’t the most inventive, the film’s approach is highly stylized. The psychedelic effect is produced by distorting images, voices and sounds. Some of the tension in the early stages is generated by a dreaded feeling of not knowing exactly what type of horror the film will veer into. Will the horror take a supernatural bent? Are there going to be jump scares? Will a character wake up from a hellish nightmare or is this a drug induced psychosis?
Like his character, Cage can flip a switch and go into an ultra-intense, higher gear. At the same time, the actor delivers sarcastic lines giving rare, unexpected moments of levity. Andrea Riseborough as Mandy has these large, hypnotic eyes which convey a haunting screen presence. Rounding out the main cast is Linus Roache, he’s very believable as the deranged and zealous cult leader Jeremiah Sand.
Mandy is a strange, outlandish film. Chances are there will be a point in the film where you’ll ask yourself “what in the world am I watching?!” The director uses many different techniques to build upon the suspense and evoke an off-kilter, visceral reaction. What will likely elevate this film into a cult favorite is the director’s keen eye for executing iconic, unforgettable moments. As a cinematic experience, Mandy boldly delivers the vicarious satisfaction of bloody vengeance and unleashing the reaper within.