by Groovinator, The Cynical Cyborg

Mandy is a love affair between a man tripping on acid, and his favorite shirt!

All lunacy aside, Mandy stars Nicholas Cage, Linus Roache, and Andrea Riseborough. Lumberjack Red (Nicholas Cage), and Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) peaceful life in the mountains comes to a crashing halt, when they are abducted by a radical cult that basically worships LSD. There is no spoiling that this is in fact a revenge film, so obviously things go from bad to worse, and Mandy does not survive the encounter, and Red escapes. Red then goes on a drug induced revenge adventure that involves motorcycle riding demons, medieval battle axes, dueling chainsaws, and a whole lot of gore across a landscape that is reminiscent of an 80’s heavy metal album cover.

Like a friend of mine said perfectly, the best way to describe this movie is “art house, meets grind house”. It is a horror movie based on supernatural demons, as well as a great deal of great grizzly gore. Inspirations from traditional grind house movies show up in the editing, and even in some of the shows that Mandy and Red watch together. For those who don’t watch a lot of what we call “art house movies”, most of them rely on style rather than substance. In Mandy, the real star of the film is atmosphere, which it has plenty of. The fact that LSD abuse plays an integral role in the film’s linear plot makes the usage of animation, red, green, and blue color patterns, and swelling music, mixed with a lot of audio manipulation as well. Many of the scenes especially towards the end are very reminiscent of Apocalypse Now. The reason I say that, is this is one of those films that goes through painstaking detail to blur the lines between what is real, and what is a chemical induced illusion. The rest is entirely up to audience interpretations.

For those of you looking for the classic Nicholas Cage freak out…look no further. Cage’s role in this film is to simply emote. Emote as a man who has had all he can ever take, and doesn’t care what happens next, hell bent on revenge, and wasting no time getting to that point. This is the kind of stuff we want to see Nicholas Cage doing. It works for him. If this guy can reinvent himself as an Indie horror movie icon…I am on board, please take me to this place, and can I have seconds?!

Mandy is one of the most exciting movies I have seen this year, but it is not perfect. There is a minor tone imbalance where humor seems to exist in spots where it doesn’t really service the scene that well. Even though this is an Art house film that relies on atmosphere, I feel the run time went on a little too long for the Grind House formula that it was trying to emulate. There is not a huge story here…and dialogue is more prose than plot points. For this reason, I feel like maybe a good 25 minutes or so could have been cut out of the film, with the same intended results. Slow burn for sure, but to the movie’s credit, there is a fantastic pay off in the end. I sat through this movie twice, and I would recommend this to anyone looking for something violent, beautiful, bizarre, and original. I would NOT recommend this to somebody looking for more traditional horror movies that rely on irregular movement, or jump scares with audio cues.

Despite some minor pacing issues, and a bit of a slow set up, I am giving Mandy a 4 out of 5 cheese curds, with a seal of approval. I may buy this digital when it goes on sale again.

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