Co-written by Cosmatos and Aaron Stewart-Ahn, the story follows Red (Cage) and Mandy (Andrea Riseborough), a couple that lives in a small cottage in the country. Late one night, a satanic cult-group, led by a long-haired leader named Jeremiah (Linus Roache), notices Mandy walking alone. They track her, kidnap the couple in their own home, and sacrifice Mandy for their viewing pleasure. Red is left hanging from his hands with barbed wire, forced to watch the death of his lover. The remainder of the story might boil down to a man's survival and journey to get revenge on those who took his true love away from him, but with director Panos Cosmatos behind the camera, there's so much more going on.
The director of Beyond the Black Rainbow clearly has a consistent look and pace to his films. His entire manner reminds me of past arthouse horror films. There's a mixture of a David Cronenberg-style work and the visual nature of an Andrei Tarkovsky film. Similar to Black Rainbow, Mandy is a methodical and crimson lit exercise, focused on the beautifully violent, only this time, he has a mad man muse in Cage. If there is any knock on Cosmatos, it's that his films are slow-paced to a fault. As we follow Red's recovery and hunt, it's Cage's off the wall performance that raises the material above the mundane. With bright mad eyes, blood all over his face, and a man-made axe, Cage's performance is a gift sent to audiences from the campy movie god's.
Outside of Cage's work, is the interesting collection of characters in the satanic-cult. They perform various seances to summon a trio of demons, similar to the trinity from Hellraiser, arriving with spikes coming out of their arms, mutilated faces, and one creature with a phallic blade. On top of all the wild characters, is Cosmatos' elaborate construction of mind-blowing set pieces. A scene where Jeremiah casts a spell on Mandy is one of the coolest moments of cinema in 2018. Their faces merge, their minds merge, and if you've never done psychotropic drugs, this comes close to the experience. Not to be outdone, Cosmatos saves a chainsaw fight between Cage and a pissed off cult-follower for last. It's every inch of great as it sounds.
Hands down, you won't find another movie in 2018 like Mandy. This is by far the most out there piece of cinema, with Panos Cosmatos using a legendary actor like Nicolas Cage for his many greater qualities. Not to be outdone is Riseborough, who delivers a quietly strong performance, and Roache, who if not for acting alongside Nicolas Cage would be the real story. So yes, go see Mandy. It might be too weird for some, it's perfect for the person who must see every Nicolas Cage movie. And despite all that rage, it's still Nicolas Cage. You're going to want to see him in all the beautiful bloody madness that is Mandy.
Written by: Leo Brady
STARRING: NICOLAS CAGE; ANDREA RISEBOROUGH; LINUS ROACHE; BILL DUKE
DIRECTED BY: PANOS COSMATOS
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
In Panos Cosmatos' Mandy, the display of Nic Cage rage is so good, it should be it's own sub-genre. There are plenty of movies that feature the many shades of madness from the Oscar winner, but not all of them capture it the way this one does. Mandy is a many things. It's a journey into the psychedelic. A battle between good and evil. And a madman's revenge story. Above all, it is an experience from beginning to end and it's all thanks to a strong collaboration between Cage and Cosmatos. Mandy is a wild reminder that when the right material comes along, Nicolas Cage is an acting chameleon, and this time his performance is a blood soaked red success.