In short, a haunting and visually striking, admirably uncompromising revenge horror flick, that gives Nic Cage an increasingly rare opportunity to shine in a film which is actually worthy of him showing up. Also with a good supporting cast and quietly amusing sense of humour.
Nicolas Cage and Andrea Riseborough play Red Miller and Mandy Bloom, a couple whose lives are destroyed following a chance encounter between Mandy and a mini bus full of Jesus freaks, real weirdo hippy types, who apparently skipped past the part in the good book about not indulging in drug abuse, kidnapping and murder.
After coming round from a narcotics induced slumber and laying eyes on Mandy, Charles Manson-esque cult leader Jeremiah (Linus Roach) becomes obsessed with Nic Cage’s rather odd-looking squeeze and orders his cretinous crew of ugly-ass misfits to abduct her. For said task they further recruit an even uglier gang of mentally deranged bikers, gnarly psychos resembling the cenobites from Hellraiser, to help out as extra muscle and just to make the whole ordeal that much more terrifying. The drug crazed cenobites are happy to help in exchange for a human sacrifice and some specially cooked up meth. Then, after the home-invasion from hell, Jeremiah and his disciples actually have the audacity to think they can just disappear quietly into the night, leaving Miller for dead. Ah, hell no. After struggling free from the barbed wire restraints and dousing his wounds and his insides with cleansing vodka, Miller sees that there’s nothing left for him in this strange and evil world but revenge. Frightening, bloody revenge. With a few one sided smiles and wisecracks along the way, maybe. At this point, literally halfway into the film’s near 2 hour running time (but it didn’t feel like 2 hours), Mandy kind of changes tack from a Rob Zombie style horror movie with flavours of David Lynch, into a grindhouse revenge splatter-fest with ample violence and bloodshed. Nods even go to George Miller, as Cage channels the likes of Max Rockatansky and John J. Rambo into one very angry and traumatised man, to hunt down and slay the gang with extreme prejudice. There’s even a scene where he forges his own axe, that is after retrieving his trusty crossbow (“perfect condition, just like you left it”) from old friend Bill Duke, who also gives him the drop on the gang. We all liked Bill Duke in Predator (‘The’ Predator, from 1987, not the shit new one) not to mention Commando, and he’s lost none of his screen presence, it’s a treat to see him crop up here. There’s a guy who might not be leaving the same kind of financial legacy to his kids and his ex-wives (if he has any) as Walter B (and this movie’s leading man, in all fairness) but at least he hasn’t sullied his reputation by selling out and appearing in any old shit so long as the cheque was big enough. Not that we know of anyway. However, I digress.
The last Nic Cage movie I liked was Mom and Dad. This is better. It’s stylishly made and transcends genres. Primarily I’d say it’s a horror film, but there’s a lot of action too. And it’s violent, oh, so violent. And gory. My wife asked me how I could continue to look at the screen during certain scenes. But in the end even she had to appreciate the film’s pure greatness. Some of the over the top practical effects reminded me of Brawl in Cell Block 99. It also has a medieval, fantasy look to it, like Excalibur, with Nic Cage smelting his own battle axe and just going medieval on their asses. Props to director Panos Cosmatos, whose father, George Cosmatos, will be well known to manly movie fans as the director of Cobra, Tombstone and Rambo: First Blood Part 2. The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree boys: Panos has directed a fine looking picture. I also wasn’t that surprised to see Elijah Wood credited as a co-producer, the guy has been associated with some very decent projects ever since his involvement in Peter Jackson’s shit Hobbit films, but not even Maniac (2012) was this dark and bloody.
Mandy is very much the kind of movie we want to see more of. Pay to see this in the cinema if you get the chance. I really want to watch it again. A rare treat. Did I mention that it’s apparently set in the 80s. And there’s even a chainsaw fight. What the fuck, it’s the best and most gloriously violent bat shit crazy revenge flick I’ve seen since The Horseman.
8 out of 10