A film that is truly unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
At a key moment in the film, Red Miller, played by Nicolas Cage, philosophizes, “A psychotic drowns where the mystic swims.” So is the fine line between genius and serial killer, or in this case, a flaming pile of cinematic garbage and a cult classic. I’m pleased to say, Mandy is the perfect blend of B-movie trash and unique, untamed auteurism that will solidify this film as one of the greatest cult flicks in the history of film.
Panos Costamos’ second feature length film begins with Red and Mandy living in a tranquil, isolated existence in the middle of the woods, seemingly far away from any danger or strife. However, when the leader of a pack of hippie cult members with crippling acid addictions develops an unwanted obsession with Mandy at first sight, everything goes downhill fast, and the plot quickly embarks on a crash course destined for bloody revenge. Cosmatos’ direction is one of the most unique visions you will ever see on film, and it perfectly compliments the hellish atmosphere that the film promises from the get go. Abundant with fluorescent red, green, and blue lighting that could either be found in our worst nightmares or the best club we’ve ever been to, every frame is a pleasure to watch. The late, great Johann Johannsson’s score compliments the visuals perfectly, complimenting the beautiful lighting while also adhering to the horror of the gory action.
To nitpick the absurdity that comes with the plot progression of Mandy would be to overlook the nature of the film in its entirety. For example, when Red needs to gather weapons in preparation for his attack on the cult and their squad of demonic biker gang henchmen, he visits his friend’s trailer park for assistance. His friend equips him with a scoped crossbow, arrows that “cut through bone like a fat kid through cake,” and an extensive rundown of everything there is to know about the mysterious cult. How is logical in any sense? Where did this guy get all this stuff? Why would he have the crossbow in the first place? Because why the hell not, is why. The audience isn’t in the theater for logic. The audience is in the theater to watch a blood spattered, batshit insane Nicolas Cage lay waste to creepy, slimy, evil acid addicts. The sooner we accept this premise, the sooner we allow ourselves to indulge in the chaos that is sprawling all over the screen, and the sooner we allow ourselves to have as much fun as any film will offer up this year when it comes to unadulterated viewing pleasures.
Admittedly, down the stretch, the film becomes a little too concerned with offering up cheesy laughs and fight sequences while not quite delivering on the overindulgent showdowns it promises at the beginning. However, Cosmatos is conscious of this fact, and approaches each scene with such confidence in his vision that it’s hard to criticize him. He knows what the audience wants, and he offers it up on a silver platter for all who are willing to dive in head first.
BY: Quinten Sansosti