Nicolas Cage: Marmite in human form, the polarising artist proclaimed by Vice as the most brilliant actor of our time, winner of an Academy Award, capable of such brilliant work as Wild at Heart and such interminable dross as Ghost Rider. Inspiration for memes and known to my Dad as “horseface”. Say what you will about Cage (and I’m sure you will say it), but the man provokes a reaction, even if that reaction is incredulous laughter.
In some respects, Panos Cosmatos’s trippy neo-Giallo thriller Mandy is the perfect Cage vehicle. Indefinable, loud, bizarre, utterly thrilling and never for a second mediocre, it’s a movie that will stimulate and baffle in almost equal doses. A vaporwave throwback to 70’s Italian chillers via Herschell Gordon Lewis with Ken Russell and The Hills Have Eyes hoiked in for good measure, it’s already building a reputation for itself as a world-of-mouth underground triumph. It looks set to cement itself as a future cult favourite while almost certainly alienating a significant portion of those who wander into its blood-red headlights.
Cage plays Red Miller, an inscrutable logger living a reclusive existence in the wilderness with his girlfriend Mandy (Andrea Riseborough), an artist who works in a gas station. A chance meeting between Mandy and a travelling religious cult prompts a violent home invasion, sending Red off a psychological cliff-edge and on a mission to draw blood.
Hallucinogenic and with an 80’s setting, Mandy plays out like the sort of tattered VHS gem that one would find in the darkest corners of the video store, only spiked with LSD. A powerful and resounding synth score by Jóhann Jóhannsson in one of the composer’s final works before his death, provides the mind-bending soundtrack as the narrative weaves around, deliberately off-course in bizarre esoteric fashion. There’s a purely surrealist dream-logic at work here as elements of the Hellraiser aesthetic and drug-induced mania blend into the revenge-drama story. It’s both arty trash and trashy art, supremely violent but with a streak of jet-black humour. An extended sequence in which a trouser-less Cage screams his way around his bathroom and downs most of a bottle of vodka pretty much sums up the mood. It will infuriate many but will enthrall more.
Horror, Thriller | USA, 2018 | 18 | 12th October 2018 (UK) | Universal Pictures | Dir.Panos Cosmatos | Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouéré
As per usual, Chris has created a fun video review for the film, check it out…