It’s 1983 and Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) and Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough) are leading a secluded and peaceful life in the Pacific Northwest until their world is catastrophically dislocated by Manson-esque cult leader Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) and his followers.
Set in three parts, Panos Cosmatos’ heavy-metal, plaid-wearing, LSD-fuelled revenge thriller MANDY moves rapidly from “quiet couple lives in rural hideaway” to “Cage freaking out in a bathroom before disembowelling someone with a chainsaw”. Cage-Rage hits a new high as he downs neat vodka in between using it to clean his wounds, all the while screaming in a bizarre rapture of grief. Fans of Cage’s most memorable frenzied outbursts will not be disappointed.
Following in the footsteps of folk horror, Cosmatos weaves in ritualistic lore and a heavy spiritual element throughout the film. He’s placed literature and pop culture of his own imagining into the world, including a hilarious commercial for Cheddar Goblin (who you can also follow on Twitter! @CheddarGoblin). And Jóhan Jóhannsson’s score is a cause for celebration. Released posthumously, the soundtrack compliments the trippy and deranged narrative. The soft synth, teamed with the disorientating blue and red hues, takes audiences on a psychedelic adventure of their own.
A revenge film at its heart, MANDY’s simplistic narrative and extreme embellishments only add to the film’s insanity. Riseborough lends a contemplative and fearless performance as MANDY only matched by that of Roache who plays the delusional, power (and LSD)- hungry cult leader almost too well. Cage delivers a crazed, vengeful protagonist with the ability to forge his own battle-axe and wield a chainsaw – what more could we want? The first thing we’ve seen from Cosmatos since BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW in 2010, MANDY must certainly be the gateway drug for us before we get hooked on what he has to offer next.