Mandy is an unhinged psycho circus

MANDY

In Theaters and On Demand / Digital HD September 14, 2018

Synopsis: Pacific Northwest. 1983 AD. Outsiders Red Miller and Mandy Bloom lead a loving and peaceful existence. When their pine-scented haven is savagely destroyed by a cult led by the sadistic Jeremiah Sand, Red is catapulted into a phantasmagoric journey filled with bloody vengeance and laced with fire.

Review: I have been staring at a blinking cursor the last several minutes trying to decide how to start my review for the new action/horror flick, MANDY. Do I begin with a warning for unsuspecting viewers or with a snide remark about Nicolas Cage and the roles he chooses? Or maybe I just drop a quarter square of LSD and experience the film all over again. These are viable and relevant choices. Truth be told there has never been a better cult destined, genre defying, mind molesting, thrill ride than this one; regardless if it is not for everyone.

If you noticed Nicolas Cage’s name and immediately thought, “oh I love that National Treasure movie”… stop. This is not your movie. But you loved The Family Man and Valley Girl? Still, no. Now if your Blu-ray collection contains films like I Spit on Your Grave and The Devil’s Rejects – in the casual viewing section – then you need to be first in line for this one.

Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) and Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough) try to lead a quiet, peaceful life far removed from civilization. It is the early 80’s so the term “unplugged” isn’t around but basically that is what they are. Mandy is an artistic, organic soul. Grounded and zen like. Red adores her and like all good mates is in awe of her talents. They wear each other like a comfortable, well worn jacket. When Mandy is taken by Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) and his in-bred crazy cult, Red goes after them like a rabid dog.

One issue I have is the slow, uneventful, tension-building moments that plague the first thirty minutes. I understand what director (Panos Cosmatos) is trying to do and can even bow to the art form. Still, at times it was as painful as a Terrence Malick field of daisies. It is not until we meet Sand’s lot that the movie really finds its footing. And by footing I mean a psychedelic hillbilly freak show dance.

The acting is top notch and far above what you usually get in these bloody romps. Roache is fantastic as the self absorbed charismatic leader. If I were an actor I would want to play this sort of character. There is no such thing as over the top but at the same time Linus is subtle enough to make the guy creepy and easy to hate. Cage really goes for it in this film and you catch glimpses of past characters in a line of delivery or eye brow raise. This is a revenge film but not in the world of Taken. The story lives on a planet all its own.

This is a trippy flick visually. Some scenes are impossible to describe with words alone. There is one moment when Mandy is being help captive and engages Jeremiah with this crazed laughter that I thought I might lose my own mind. The film is very red. Not just in carnage but with filters of fire. This too gives it a 60’s vibe that makes it timeless in the genre. Cosmatos seems to borrow from other decades and dimensions to create this world in which Miller must survive.

MANDY is unrated but 100% an adult film. Those who love it will really love it and those who don’t get it will not get it at all. As I said I applaud Panos for his ability to create art in the cinematic realm. Another element that must be mentioned is the amazing soundtrack that helps submerge the viewer into this hellish world. It is the final score of the late renowned Oscar-nominated composer Jóhann Jóhannsson and showcases his talent as one of the greatest.