Connect with us
Mandy 2018 film review
Image: RLJE Films

Film

Mandy is a Half-serious, Half-Bonkers Phantasmagorical Meditation on Love and Revenge

The enchanted lives of a couple in a secluded forest are brutally shattered by a nightmarish hippie cult and their demon-biker henchmen, propelling a man into a spiraling, surreal rampage of vengeance.

Sundance 2018: Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy

The picture of domestic tranquility, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) and her husband Red (Nicholas Cage) live together in a remote cabin in the woods. It’s 1983, and they enjoy a simple life — until a cult leader (Linus Roche) becomes infatuated with possessing Mandy. With the help of particularly heinous demons, the cult commits terrible acts of violence. Mandy is as much about the rebellious, luminous spirit of the title character as it is about Red’s quest for absolute, no-holds-barred retribution. It’s pure entertainment slightly curbed by deep affection and a not-so-subtle indictment of blind religious faith.

Panos Cosmatos’ first feature, Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010), was a gripping journey into a surreal universe of confinement and time travel. Mind-bending beautiful (albeit confusing), the visuals of Black Rainbow sear into your memory no matter what you think of the story. In Mandy, Cosmatos’ narrative is much more straightforward, but just as lengthy in ramping up to the action. With the slow rise to the main attraction, we are at least privy to a careful but captivating presentation of Andrea Riseborough’s Mandy, and the unsettling crew of cult members that are sent to obtain her allegiance with sacrifices and a dangerous hallucinatory drug. Riseborough (Oblivion, Battle of the Sexes) is wonderfully defiant of her captors, while Cage is kept silently at bay until he frees himself. Mandy herself is a visionary — the book she consumes and the drawings she does in her spare time seem to be a premonition of an uncontrollable future. She is at the center of a vicious attack but manages to not be a victim. Riseborough projects a serene sense of confidence even as her world falls apart.

This lack of Cage until a good way into the film may be frustrating, but once he’s unleashed, the atmosphere becomes charged with endless opportunities for him to chew the scenery and amp up the excitement of what insanity he has in store for us. Pairing Cosmatos and Cage puts an ideal — if sometimes over-exaggerated — face to the director’s imaginative mania. A frenzied yet purposeful drive to cut down those who have committed unfathomable pain unfurls with gory precision. Horror fans, regardless of whether they admire Cage’s loony dedication to the role, will appreciate the exacting details and excess involved with Red’s hunt for the ruthless cult.

Cage wavers between deadpan and outright campy madness. In one stand-alone scene, he confronts utter devastation in a bathroom — screaming, plodding, ludicrously over-the-top, and appearing oddly vulnerable onscreen as we are isolated with him for an extended amount of time. Cage may have the effect of repulsing those who aren’t on board with his brand of outlandish characterizations, but for any audience that shows up expecting him to truly embrace showy melodrama and foolish-yet-forceful quips, the spellbinding carnage of Mandy won’t disappoint in the least.

Mandy movie review
Image: RLJE Films

Cosmatos and Aaron Stewart-Ahn expertly craft a fantasy space that lies hidden in plain sight. Vivid colors and visual nuance come together with Cage’s lunatic performance to create a delightfully dark atmosphere where blood flows freely, and a theater of the grotesque plays out with a marvelous fury.

Watch Mandy

Now Streaming

Written By

Brian Marks is Sordid Cinema's Lead Film Critic. His writing has appeared in The Village Voice, LA Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, and Ampersand. He's a graduate of USC's master's program in Specialized Arts Journalism. You can find more of his writing at InPraiseofCinema.com. Best film experience: driving halfway across the the country for a screening of Jean-Luc Godard's "King Lear." Totally worth it.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Facebook

Trending

‘Trigger Warning’ Review: Supersoldier Jessica Alba Wages War on Domestic Criminals in Slick but Contrived Melodrama

Film

Kate Bosworth and Justin Long Relationship Timeline: How Long Have They Been Married? 

Celebrity

Willie Mays Cause of Death: How Did the Baseball Legend and Hall of Famer Die?

Celebrity

Marc Summers and Alice Filous 50th Anniversary! Celebrating 50 Decades of Love!

Celebrity

Ian McKellen Hospitalized After Stage Fall: Ian Fell During Performance in London!

Celebrity

Who Is Henry Cavill’s Girlfriend? Discover the Wife of a Famous British Actor!

Celebrity

Quavo Joined by Vice President Kamala Harris at Anti-Gun Violence Event Declaring ‘Takeoff Day’ in Atlanta

Celebrity

Who Is Molly Ringwald’s Husband? Panio Gianopoulos Love for the American Actress! 

Comics

Ariana DeBose Tony Awards Entourage: Sings and Dances for During Tony Awards 2024 Kick-off!

Celebrity

Celine Dion Cries at N.Y.C Documentary Premiere: Dion Receives Standing Ovation, Thanks Her Children!

Celebrity

Hong Kong Disneyland Cuts Losses, Repays Loan to Disney

Lifestyle

Who Is Anthony Michael Hall’s Wife? The Truth About the Famous American Actor’s Wife!

Celebrity

Kanye West & Ty Dolla Sign’s “VULTURES 1” Removed From Spotify To The Dismay Of Fans

Celebrity

Celine Dion Took Potentially Fatal Dosages of Valium to Cope With Symptoms of Stiff Person Syndrome: ‘I Did Not Know Honestly That It Could Kill Me’

Celebrity

ASAP Rocky Launches Adorable Father’s Day Campaign For Bottega Veneta With His Sons

Celebrity

Idris Elba and Sabrina Elba’s Relationship Timeline

Celebrity

Connect