“Mandy” is set in the primal Pacific Northwest wilderness of 1983 where Red Miller (Nicolas Cage), a broken and haunted man hunts an unhinged religious sect who slaughtered the love of his life, Mandy.
This is an instant midnight cult classic. It has a LSD-fueled human/demon hybrids. It has a roaming satanic cult group. It has that dark ’80s aesthetic complete with lots of stark red and green lighting. It has a chainsaw duel. And it has many classic Nicolas Cage freakouts while he’s going all “Taken” on people, except gorier.
We don’t know what this says about us, but “Mandy” is one of our favorite movies of the year.
Mixed in with all the absurdity is some great art direction. Director Panos Cosmatos of “Beyond the Black Rainbow” created stunning visuals. And the late Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson provided a brilliant score of dark synth that’s brooding, then borders on campy, but overall works.
The campiness is done with a genius amount of balance between funny and serious. First of all, there’s Nicolas Cage, who has become a joke in and of himself. Then take things like a classic Cage freakout while he’s screaming into a vodka bottle or adorning a beautiful silver battle axe in a rage and have them filmed so seriously without breaking the fourth wall at all—it’s hilarious, but not cheesy. And speaking of that, there’s a cheese goblin. It’s hard not to make that cheesy, but it was humorous and absurd while being dark and creepy at the same time.
Because of the first half of the film’s serious and slow artsiness, when the film starts to escalate and have some fun, it works.
We recommend that you see this movie in the theater, late at night and preferably tonight or tomorrow night (September 19-20 at the Oriental Theatre). So far it’s only scheduled to be in Milwaukee for these two nights. But if enough people go see it, Milwaukee Film will add more showing dates.
Watch the trailer below and listen to our full conversation in the podcast episode above to hear about our favorite Nicolas Cage movies out of the 90+ titles he’s in.
We’re 88Nine’s Justin Barney and Milwaukee Film’s Kpolly. We’re buds, we like cinema—we’re Cinebuds. This week on the podcast, we’re talking about “Mandy,” aka Nicolas Cage vs. a demonic biker cult.
Read more and listen to the podcast below to hear our review of “Mandy” and our picks for the best Nic Cage movies of all time, of which “Mandy” is definitely one.