Welp, I’m back for 2019, baby! (and the rest of you who prefer not to be called ‘baby’ by an internet stranger) If you didn’t notice I was gone, that’s fine. But I have the review bug again. Like the rhinovirus that I have but for writing about horror movies. Unlike rhinovirus, my review bug probably won’t last for weeks. (this fucking never-ending cold!) In fact, having a fever and watching the subject of this review – Mandy – are similar experiences. One brings fever dreams with it and one seems to be an impossible recording of one of those dreams that stars Nic Cage. (i’ll let you guess which is which). Let’s get into it, shall we?
Red is a logger working in the remotest forests of the Pacific Northwest (maybe Canada?). When he’s not murdering trees, he kicks back with his artist / general store clerk wife, Mandy, in his (by the looks of it) cobbled together cabin deep in some other woods (just a helicopter and a Chevy Bronco ride from the job site). The couple lives an idyllic and simple existence far from the rat race. Everything is perfect. Until (uh oh) Mandy is spotted by Jeremiah Sand, the leader of a small but fanatical cult. For Jeremiah, it is desire at first sight. He wants her. Wants to own her. To have power over her like he has over his sycophantic “family”. So, what does a cult leader do when he wants something / somebody? He hires a gang of leather-clad motorbike riders from hell to kidnap her, of course! That plan goes south, leaving Mandy dead and Red nearly so. (i don’t think that counts as a spoiler. if you think it does, then please forgive my absolute gaucherie) Red survives and his thirst for revenge will take him on a bloody, bloody journey.
Cage’s Red descends into madness in the most glorious and and surreal way possible. His loss is profound and overshadows even his own treatment at the hands of the cult zealots. He escapes death with one very fervent drive – retribution. Mandy was his world and now he’s the proverbial man with nothing to lose. Bad news for the bad guys. Especially Jeremiah – played to uncanny perfection by Linus Roache, who swiftly shifts from soft-spoken manipulation, to sermonizing menace, to groveling coward throughout the story. His sway over his disciples is supreme and his impotence in the face of resistance is devastating to his ego. But enough about Roache, (i mean, his performance is laudable, but…) we’re here for outrageous Cage antics! Luckily, director Panos Cosmatos draws out one of Cage’s most unrestrained performances. (and that’s saying a lot!) Cage gnashes and screams and drinks and drugs and makes a weapon of mythological design seemingly plumbed from the subconscious depths of our collective human memories of a more brutal past. (or from a divine/satanic vision of a brutal future?) His blood-soaked murder spree is a nightmarish trip through hell and Cage’s madness drives the whole experience. And what a bad trip it is. If the bright streaming lights and mono score of 2001 evoke a good trip, then this red and black and fire packed film is its polar opposite – a scary visual freakout with a masterfully disorienting multi-channel sound design. See this in the dark with a large screen and a great sound system. (like, in a theater) It is bound to become a midnight staple at any decent cinema!
The Final Cut: Mandy is a bloody revenge story told via psychedelic nightmare. Cage turns in an incredibly unhinged performance that stands out even among other Cage performances!