“Do you like The Carpenters?”
This, by far and away is the single most terrifying question posed in trippy horror nightmare 'Mandy'. The film actually raises many, many other questions but this is the one that stands above all others.
The first hour of Mandy will either have you admiring the director's artistic flair and unique sense of style or will have you reaching for the remote control to see what time the football starts. Patience is necessary during the first half of the film. Lots of patience. The story is simple. It's 1983 for some reason and Nicolas Cage lives with his wife, the titular Mandy - the love of his life - in a nice big cabin in the woods. They spend their time gazing at the sky while doused in slowly pulsing flashes of bright blue, green, and pink light filters and generally loving each other in a slow moving hippy trippy way.
A satanic cult rolls into the area and their mad-as-a-badger leader, Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache, son of Coronation Street
's Ken Barlow himself, William Roache) takes a shine to the lovely-ish Mandy (Andrea Riseborough from Waco
, and The Death of Stalin
). Taking Mandy prisoner while keeping hubby Nicolas Cage strung up with barbed wire, Sand tries using mind-altering drugs to make her compliant before trying to seduce her with his sexual wiles*. Laughing at his less than impressive old fella doesn't sit well with Sand and he kills her in a sleeping bag.
Now, bearing in mind it's taken a whole hour to get this far – lovey couple get attacked by satanists – there's only one thing left for the film to do.
UNLEASH THE MIGHTY CAGE.
From the moment Nicolas Cage frees himself from his barbed wire prison, showering his wounds in whisky and screaming like only Nicolas Cage can do, the film is relentless. From slow moving hippy arthouse to complete mayhem, this film goes 0-Cage in 60 minutes and simply doesn't stop. Collecting a sexy looking crossbow from Bill (Predator) Duke, and forging a sexy axe, Cage hunts down the demonic creatures responsible for his wife's death, despatching them as brutally and violently as possible.
Two words: chainsaw fight.
Forget plot. There is none. Just revel in the madness of Nicolas Cage as he shrieks, screams, roars, gibbers and howls at the screen for an hour. You know that Youtube montage video “Nicolas Cage Losing His shit”? They're going to have to re-edit it. The moment he turns his blood-soaked face to the camera and grins like an idiot, I guarantee - whether you're laughing with him or laughing at him; whether you're laughing at how brilliant that moment is or how utterly fucking stupid it is - you will laugh.
Don't expect it to make any sense. It doesn't. It's like Nicolas Winding Refn and Rob Zombie made John Wick Goes To Hell
** while taking downers and LSD until the coke kicked in. It's all about art design and appearance. And yes, that 100% means style over substance, but when Nicolas Cage gets his mental on, who really gives a fuck? The scene where Roache stares unblinkingly, almost hypnotically, into the camera for over two minutes, his face merging with Riseborough's is fantastic. In fact, it's eyes that dominate the entire film. No matter who is on the screen, you are always, and sometimes quite cleverly, drawn towards their eyes. Apart from Cage. He's just fucking bonkers all over.
Director Panos Cosmatos (son of George P Cosmatos – director of Stallone action classics Rambo: First Blood Part 2
, and Cobra
), while clearly out of his fragile little mind, also shows a level of creativity that promises much for the future with arguably the Marmite release of the year.
*He flashes his willy at her.
**Not an actual film, but wouldn't that be fucking great?