‘Mandy’ review – Nic Cage rides an ATV through hell

Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy owns its insanity and artistry simultaneously. It’s a slow-burn voyage through hell with an eye for the moody and mythic. And Nicolas Cage has never been more unhinged – in a good way.

Red (Cage) and his wife Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) live a quiet, idyllic life in the Pacific Northwest. He’s a lumberjack and she’s an artist. It’s made clear by their interactions and the fanciful, warm-color style of Cosmatos’ filmmaking that even though they really want for nothing, they long for more excitement. Eventually, they both get much more than they bargained for.

A strange cavalcade of Satanic cultists led by the hilariously pathetic Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) passes by Mandy in the woods. Sand becomes obsessed by her, the group eventually kidnaps her, and…

Nic Cage forges a scythe. Nic Cage battles people with chainsaws. Nic Cage fights in hand-to-hand combat with demons.

If you’re dying to see Mandy, that’s what you want to see. And it does not disappoint on that front. It is one of the most deranged movies I’ve ever seen. But it’s more than just a Nic Cage meme. It has the courage of its mythic convictions. When we first see Mandy drawing or reading the sort of cosmic fantasy she loves, it might be just a weird quirk, but then the entire movie seems to bend to her will. It’s almost as if the whole thing takes place in her imagination.

What emerges is a perfectly chilled blend of lo-fi VHS storytelling and other-worldly style. Benjamin Loeb’s cinematography stuns at every turn: the use of wild reds and crimsons, the 80s-style design patterns, and just the right amount of heavy shadow. It all screams mood while not overpowering the sillier aspects of the film that make it so enjoyable.

This is a very niche movie. It’s clearly not even made for all horror fans, as the screening I was at had multiple walkouts. But it’s nothing but fun from start to finish if you’ve got a taste for high-brow shlock. I’m not even sure that’s a real thing, but Mandy definitely qualifies.

-George Napper

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