So I may be a little late to the party, but it’s 11:30 pm and I just finished watching director Panos Cosmatos’s (Beyond the Black Rainbow) second feature film, Mandy. It stars Nicolas Cage (Raising Arizona, Lord of War) as Red Miller, Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion, Nancy) as Mandy Bloom, the love of Red’s life, Linus Roache (Batman Begins, Riddick) as cult leader Jeremiah Sand, and a guy named Tamás Hagyuó as “Fuck Pig”. OK, I just really wanted to call attention to the fact that there’s a character called “Fuck Pig” in this movie. That alone is worth the price of admission.
Nicolas Cage as Red Miller
Mandy is really a straightforward revenge flick, at least as far as the plot goes. A deranged cult led by Sand assaults Red and Mandy in their home, kills Mandy in front of Red, and leaves Red for dead. Of course, Red’s not dead and goes after the cult (and the deranged, LSD-fueled, Road Warrior-type biker gang that helped them) to exact his bloody vengeance. What separates this from other movies of this ilk is how friggin trippy it is. Cosmatos clearly has a thing for psychotropic drugs as they play a part in the narrative and imagery of this film as well as his previous endeavor, Beyond the Black Rainbow. It also has the “Cheddar Goblin”, a creepy, mac-and-cheese spewing corporate mascot that now has a cult following of his own on Twitter.
Linus Roache as cult leader Jeremiah Sand
As for the performances, they’re top notch. The eponymous Mandy has had some traumatic experiences, and Riseborough plays her with a haunted melancholy. Roache delivers what is probably the film’s best performance as a Manson-like cult leader who struggles with his confidence. Cage is at his Cage-iest, and seems to relish in doing what he does best: playing a broken character that goes off the deep end. This time, however, he gets to do it with a big, fuck-off axe. His scene in the bathroom after Mandy’s execution is vintage Nic Cage. The supporting characters also give it their all, including Richard Brake (Batman Begins, Game of Thrones) in his lone scene as “The Chemist” and Olwen Fouéré as Mother Marlene, one of Sand’s followers.
Red’s big, fuck-off axe
Mandy is brilliantly shot and directed, is gory as hell, and has an amazing score by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson (Sicario, Arrival), to whom the film is dedicated. My only negative is that sometimes Cosmatos likes to let his camera linger on a subject for a bit, especially in the beginning of the movie, which can make it feel a bit slow. But it does have a pretty cool chainsaw fight. For these reasons, I give Mandy four out of five severed heads. If it’s not playing in a theater near you, look for it on VOD.
The Cheddar Goblin