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Mandy: A Thrilling Experience That Features a Great Performance From Nicolas Cage

September 15, 2018

Mandy is so much more than a “Nic Cage freaking out” movie, and I’m certain it will become a cult classic that is celebrated at midnight screenings full of loving fans who celebrate every blood splurt that sprays in Nic Cage’s face. It can best be described as a thrilling experience that bombards your senses with bright colors, loud noises and ultra-violence, that will either make you cheer or cringe. Director Panos Cosmatos has created a movie that feels familiar with its Mad Max, giallo and Clive Barker/Nicolas Winding Refn vibes, and totally alien with its fever dream cinematography, heavy metal score and dedication to anarchy. I love how Cosmatos found a way to combine the grindhouse aesthetic (lots of blood and heightened performances) with an unconventional arthouse style that will alienate the masses and gain a very loyal audience who embrace how niche Mandy is.

At its core Mandy tells a simple story of love, revenge and horrible violence. The central characters Red Miller (Nic Cage) and Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough) live contentedly in the deeps woods of California’s Shadow Mountains, and seem totally happy about their alienation. The two have a gentle relationship that revolves around outdoor activities, reading, and talking about their favorite planets (Jupiter and Galactus). All is good until Mandy is spotted by a cult leader named Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roach), who is equal parts flower child and homicidal maniac. Jeremiah orders his followers to kidnap Mandy, to do this they call forth some motorcycle riding maniacs who look like they just came from a Hellraiser/Mad Max crossover film. The kidnapping plays out with incredibly brutality and leaves Red a bloody and broken mess who will make Liam Neeson’s mission in Taken look like a calm afternoon. The revenge mission he embarks on turns absurdity to 11, and involves custom battles axes, vodka, decapitations, anime sequences and a chainsaw fight.

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The thing I appreciate most about Mandy is how it doesn’t use Cage’s penchant for “freaking out” crudely. When Cage does have his uncut two-minute long bout of yelling, it is earned, and I’m pretty sure most of us would react in a similar manner after we’ve seen our loved one being hurt by a hippy cult who were aided by seemingly supernatural murderers. The Cage “freak out” is a real thing, but in movies like Mom and Dad, the bouts of yelling seem obligatory and exploitative. After the patented freak out (which is amazing), Cage does an excellent job of portraying a bulked up badass who can jump from the second story of homes and not break his legs in seven places (It happens and it’s awesome).

If you are looking for a trippy experience that features bonkers cinematography, lots of blood, and cult leaders who monologue, you will love Mandy.

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