September 3, 2018

GENRE | Midnight Movie Madness – Nicolas Cage Avenges 'Mandy'

"I am your God now!"
Nicolas Cage Panos Cosmatos | Mandy

Mandy is a stunning, totally batsh*t crazy piece of throwback horror genre filmmaking. Set in the wilderness of the otherworldly Shadow Mountains in 1983, Italian-Canadian filmmaker Panos Cosmatos' attention to period stylistic detail extends the film's hypnotic sense of atmospheric and cinematic moodiness to insane lengths.

A perfectly cast Nicolas Cage stars as a simple man of the woods, lumberjack Red Miller, deeply in love with Andrea Riseborough's titular Mandy Bloom. When a sudden act of violence abruptly disrupts their idyllic cabin life—you can probably guess what happens—Red turns swiftly towards maniacal vengeance to hunt down the demonic perpetrators.

Sure enough, this is peak Cage as everything feels tailored to his cult of personality and image. He starts small, stoic, and quiet before his brutality is unleashed building to a barely explained but epic series of video game style boss battles with the silliest of weapons at each level.

The sparse cast of loners, stragglers, and lunatics feel so completely surreal while still grounded in a bizarrely naturalistic environment splashed in blood red. A totally out there Linus Roache as a ravaging, supernatural cult leader is just the right kind of bonkers as his sublime performance matches Cage's escalating madness.

Linus Roache Panos Cosmatos | Mandy

Aaron Stewart-Ahn and Cosmatos' bare script features very little dialogue and does just enough to set up the ultra dark, supernatural elements of the film's tense antics. How Cosmatos mixes genre conventions and stylistic influences is an admirable work of cinematic curation.

Full of gonzo and grindhouse ideas, he remixes so many dynamic fixtures to craft a completely thrilling ride. Even Mandy's synth rock-inspired musical score by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson—reportedly his final piece of completed work—exquisitely frames the film's very specific period setting and location together in trippy, mind-altering fashion.

Mandy is a ferocious film made of pure genre and mood. Cage, perfectly embodying our embittered lead, executes the story's simple aims of ultraviolence with classic style and reverence. Filmed in a fever dream manner of trippiness, the hellscape of a film is fully realized. It's a bloody, psychedelic romp and drug-fuelled rampage of destruction.

Mandy opens in select theatres including The Park Theatre, Rio Theatre, and is available through video on demand on September 14th.

More | YVArcade / AV Club / Indiewire / Slashfilm

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