If you are a horror fan who spends time on social media, you’ll be hard pressed not to come across talk of Mandy.
People are raving about Nicholas Cage’s latest assault on the cinema, describing the film as grotesque, disturbing, beautiful, relentless, delirious…
Such descriptions immediately caught my attention. And I love Cage, even though he hasn’t given us a good performance for many years.
I finally got my chance to watch Mandy and I was… hmm… not blown away. Not bored. Somewhere in between?
Let me elaborate.
The film has a very slow build up, focusing on our protagonist, Red Miller (Cage) and his partner, Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough) who spend a lot of time lying together and talking. About her dad killing baby Starlings with a crowbar(?). I did get a little bored unfortunately. But stick with it. It soon up the ante.
A cult, led by Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache), spot Mandy as they are travelling in their camper and the cult leader decides he must have her. So, one of the “brothers” summons demon bikers to attack the couple and kidnap her (as you do).
Forcing drugs upon her, she is expected to succumb to Jeremiah’s advances (he literally stands naked in front of her and she’s expected to fall to her knees). Instead, she laughs hysterically (can you blame her?!). Humiliated, he takes revenge by setting her on fire, in front of Red, who is left to die, tied up by razor wire.
The last third of the film is a descent into gore, carnage and mayhem as Red hunts down the bikers and cult members to take revenge for his beloved. Whilst totally high on cocaine and acid, I might add.
“We were always eating cherries from the cherry tree.”
Visually, Mandy is completely stunning. There is such a vivid use of colour and long lens shots to encapsulate the post-apocalyptic, dystopian and desolate feel of the landscape.
There’s a Mad Max quality to the film, particularly present in the crazed biker gang who resemble a cross between characters from The Purge and cenobites from Hellraiser.
Most of the performances are excellent with Cage going hell-bent crazy with the creepiest blood-soaked grin I’ve ever seen. Roache is clearly revelling in his pseudo-sexual alter ego and there is a scene stealing turn from Rob Zombie’s leading man, Richard Brake as The Chemist.
“The darker the horror, the brighter the flame.”
There is also a gallon of blood used in the gory, visceral deaths. My personal favourite being a fight to the death with chainsaws.
Ultimately, the film is style over substance with many plot holes, a weak story line and a huge element of “been there, done that”. However, there are some genuinely disturbing moments and the silent end credits are very effective.
No matter if you enjoy it or not, this film has given birth to the Cheddar Goblin. And I think we can all agree, he’s awesome.
By Cat Dunn
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