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Blu-ray Review: Mandy

November 6, 2018

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

A nightmarish, heavy metal-inspired revenge fantasy that stars Nicolas Cage at his most unhinged and plays like a demented, hallucinatory fever dream, Mandy is one of the more unique films to be released this year.

It’s set in 1983, and follows Red Miller (Cage), a lumberjack who lives in a cabin in the woods with his fantasy-obsessed girlfriend Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough). But their world takes a dark turn when Mandy is taken by Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache), the twisted leader of a religious cult.

This prompts Red to seek his vengeance against the cult, which includes taking on the Black Skulls, a brutal gang of demonic bikers that do their dirty work, and are summoned by the mystical Horn of Abraxas.

Directed by Panos Cosmatos, following up his 2010 film Beyond the Black Rainbow, Mandy is one of those films that plays with a clear vision on behalf of its filmmaker, and even if it doesn’t all work equally well, you can’t say it isn’t unique. The film tries to subvert the typical three act structure by dividing itself into chapters, and isn’t quite successful at doing so, which makes the pacing feel somewhat off. But this arguably adds to the general feeling of unease that permeates throughout.

The film starts off as a deliberately paced mood piece, establishing the relationship between Red and Mandy, before morphing into a whacked out revenge fantasy in the second half. It plays with a sort of hazy, dream logic to it, mixing elements of the occult with a straight-forward quest for vengeance that explodes with sequences of over the top gore and B-movie violence, as Red uses chainsaws and a special battle axe that he crafts himself to tear his way through this hellish landscape.

The lighting and cinematography give the film the feel of a fever dream, and the action scenes have a grungy quality to them that pays tribute to the slasher movies of the 1970s and ’80s. It takes a bit long to get to the good stuff, but once the action really kicks in, Mandy offers a stylish mix of extreme violence and crazy Nicolas Cage moments. It feels like a ready-made cult classic.

The Blu-ray also includes a well made behind the scenes featurette that features members of the cast and crew talking in voiceover about the story and what went into the production as concept art and on-set footage play on screen, as well as a selection of deleted and extended scenes.

Mandy is an Elevation Pictures release. It’s 121 minutes and rated 18A.

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