This really felt like the movie Rob Zombie has been trying to make for the past 15 years. Take an old school Sword & Sorcery or Dungeons and Dragons story and it’s dreamscape. Set it in the 80s with a blend of metal and synth music. That is Mandy. It’s beautiful, brutal, bloody, and downright insane.
Its hard where to begin with this film, so I think I’ll have to start with the creator himself, Panos Cosmatos. The guy’s insane. Truly, there are so many references to LSD, 80’s, metal, and fantasy. That being said Panos somehow makes it work. This film he made is truly original, its so experimental and fearless that you can’t help but admire it. He holds no awareness towards cinematic conventions or formulaes. Not only that but there are certain scenes in the film where he intertwines tragedy and comedy so closely that they sort of blend and he somehow makes it work. Very few people in my mind can pull that off and Panos has succeeded that on his second film.
Now we got to talk about the real MVP of this movie, Nicolas Goddamn Cage. There are many gems within his performance: First, it’s Cage’s fluctuation between full-out screaming and traumatized crying, emotions that constantly run wild. Then in the latter half of the film, where he goes on a revenge spree, Cage brings his crazed faces that he usually makes, covered in blood, when fighting demon men with massive chainsaws or a super axe that he makes himself. In those crazy moments, I’ve forgotten not only of his serious acting abilities but also of his dramatic potential. He creates a full journey for a nightmarish, broken character who will make you not only sympathize with, but you actually root for in this bizarre film. For an actor to pull off something like that in a film is an incredible feat and Cage does it with ease. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Cage get’s more offers for bigger films because his performance was that good.
This film was also Johann Johansson’s last score before he passed and goddamn did he do a fantastic job. It feels like a science fiction, horror score with metal undertones. Drony guitars and distorted synths boom through the movie and it’s phenomenal.
Though I am praising this film to death, it did have a lot of flaws. The biggest one is that it could’ve been shorter and that has me torn. Because there were certain scenes that dragged on forever. Yes, they were visually stunning but they went nowhere in the story. Also, the revenge genre is getting a bit stale and there were some tropes in this movie that we’ve seen countless times before. The gore/violence in the second half of the film was juvenile at times. But let’s face it, this movie is not for everyone. I mean, there’s a scene where Nic Cage is about to kill someone with a chainsaw and that dude just grins and brings out a chainsaw that’s twice as long. And then they have a chainsaw sword-fight. A lot of people will roll their eyes on that, and I did a bit too. but as the scene continued on to its bloody conclusion I realized that this is pure entertainment at its wildest form.
Mandy is one of the most atmospheric movies I’ve ever seen and watching it really does feel more like visiting a place from another world. Is special from start to finish, from the psychedelic opening to the speed-metal finale. It’s not for everyone, but for a willing and engaged audience, this is a rare film. A warped ‘heart of darkness’ journey that will destroy your mind when the credits roll.