If you saw the trailer for Mandy and thought it had the potential to be another high-octane Nicolas Cage masterclass in over-the-top awesomeness, then it’s safe to say you would be 100% correct.
It felt like the cast and crew were all in the same headspace for this psychedelic, celluloid trip crossed between a feverish nightmare and a nod to 80’s heavy-metal trash. Oddly enough, that’s the easiest way to describe Mandy as we descend into hell, barraged with an energetic style and hypnotic imagery.
Cage stars as Red Miller, who lives a peaceful life in a secluded cabin in the woods with his girlfriend Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). It’s all undone when Mandy is targeted and kidnapped by Jeremiah (Linus Roache), a fiendish cult leader. As Red’s attempts at rescuing her don’t go as planned, we the audience, along with Red begin a slow nosedive into madness and brutality as the stage is set for bloody revenge against the cult leader and his gang of merry psychotics.
This may sound like your average revenge tale, but what director Panos Cosmatos (also responsible for the equally mind-bending and underrated Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)) has in store for his audience is something you can’t really prepare yourself for. Just when you think it can’t get any crazier, it does. Just when you think Nicolas Cage can’t get any crazier… Well, that goes without saying.
But what also makes this experience extra special is that the rest of the cast seemed to have contracted the ‘Nicolas Cage’ acting bug, as they are as equally outlandishly crazy, but without going too far over-the-top. Cosmatos’ flair for raw neon energy, along with a synthetic metal soundtrack makes it all fit like an unhinged nightmare you’d want to wake up from as quickly as possible.
There are a handful of scenes that stand out amongst the rest, which isn’t easy since every shot is so well framed and lit. A vodka swilling scene could easily be added to a clip-show of top cinematic moments in Cage’s career, but it’s a certain duelling chainsaw fight that is worth the price of admission alone.
Mandy is definitely not for everybody, but it’s also unlike any horror revenge tale that you’ve seen in a while. It’s not just merely a Nicolas Cage sideshow as some might expect, as it’s also a well shot and visionary experience that belongs in another realm of nightmares and dreamscapes, but comes up-close-and-personal and hits you in the face.
Prompted a 5-minute standing ovation at Cannes.