Review: Mandy

A broken man seeks bloody vengeance against a religious cult in Mandy. Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) is a logger, who lives with his artist girlfriend Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough) in a cabin near the Shadow Mountains in the year 1983. One day, Mandy catches the attention of a cult known as the Children of the New Dawn, lead by Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache), who instructs his fellow cult members to kidnap Mandy, with the help of a demonic biker gang known as the Black Skulls. Left for dead during the assault, Red sets out to hunt down those who wronged him.

Writer/director Panos Cosmatos (Beyond the Black Rainbow) descends into Hell on Earth in Mandy. The film introduces us to Red Miller and Mandy Bloom as a loving couple living in the middle of nowhere. However, their idealistic existence is torn about by the arrival of the Children of the New Dawn, a cult of religious fanatics fueled by LSD. When Jeremiah Sand fails at his attempts to seduce Mandy into their fold, he takes it out on both her and Red, leaving the latter tied up and bloody. When he finally frees himself, Red arms himself with the help of his old friend Caruthers (Bill Duke) and sets out on a bloody mission of revenge.

I’m going to say straight out that Mandy is probably one of the most evil feeling films that I have seen and that the plot is the thing that nightmares are made of. A lot of this comes from Mandy‘s visual aesthetic, which features a lot of red tinted lighting, which becomes more prominent as the film progresses. In fact, I would go so far and say that Mandy is a quite technically accomplished film and there is a great scene in the film, where 
Jeremiah Sand is trying to seduce Mandy and their faces fade back and forth, to the point where they seem like one person.

Probably one of the main selling points of Mandy is the promise of “Crazy Nicolas Cage,” which has almost become a stereotype at this point. One very notable element of Cage’s performance is that the entire second half of the film has him spouting very little dialogue. As such, this is a performance that relies greatly on Nicolas Cage’s crazed facial expressions. Red Miller’s quest for revenge is indeed a bloody one, with him even constructing a battle axe, like something you would see on the cover of a heavy metal album. Speaking of Heavy Metal, there are a number of animated dream sequences within Mandy, which is highly reminiscent of that 1981 film.

Ultimately, I have to say that Mandy is film that is hard for me to fully recommend, since it is a very dark and evil feeling film that is sure to give people nightmares. That said, those coming for a crazy Nicolas Cage performance, and/or goblin mac and cheese commercials, are not going to leave disappointed.

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Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).