Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
Joel interviews the MIFF team to find out what's in this year's program announcement! Click to listen to our special SWITCHCast ep now.x
review, Mandy, Mandy, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Richard Brake, Bill Duke, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouéré, Clément Baronnet, Alexis Julemont, Line Pillet, Panos Cosmatos

MANDY

★★★★

A PSYCHEDELIC GONZO MASTERPIECE

SYDNEY UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Jake Watt
14th September 2018

The first film of director Panos Cosmatos (the son of film director George P. Cosmatos, whose credits include ‘Rambo: First Blood Part II’ and ‘Cobra’) was the science-fiction acid trip ‘Beyond The Black Rainbow’, a mash-up of influences including Tarkovsky’s ‘Solaris’, Ken Russell’s ‘Altered States’ and George Lucas’ ‘THX 1138’. If you were to be unkind, you could describe it as 110 minutes of people staring at each other and/or walking around while somebody plays a Moog synthesizer.

Panos Cosmatos has returned with his second feature, ‘Mandy’, a revenge film that shares similarities with ‘Beyond the Black Rainbow’ and other 80s influenced fare (Jason Eisener’s ‘Hobo With a Shotgun’, Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie’s ‘The Void’, Joe Begos’ ‘The Mind’s Eye’) but has been fuel-injected by wild performances from Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough (‘The Death of Stalin’), and Linus Roache (‘Non-Stop’) into a gonzo masterpiece.

The Shadow Mountains, 1983 A.D.. King Crimson’s song 'Starless' plays over an aerial shot of a forest of pine trees. On the radio, Richard Nixon talks about America’s return to spiritual values. We are introduced to Red Miller (Cage), a lumberjack; his artist girlfriend, Mandy (Riseborough); their tender relationship and many-windowed, vulnerable home down by Crystal Lake.

'MANDY' TRAILER

The first 45 minutes are an exercise in mood-building and narcotised atmospheric languor, with Riseborough (complete with a facial scar and blind-eyed contact lens) haunting as Mandy and Cage revisiting his subdued logger character from David Gordon Green’s ‘Joe’. According to Cosmatos, the deliberately slow, hypnotic pace of his films belongs to what he has dubbed the "trance film" subgenre, which includes Francis Ford Coppola's ‘Apocalypse Now’ and Saul Bass's ‘Phase IV’. Anyway, the buildup is as deliberate and intractable as quicksand, but so is the follow-through.

Enter: a traveling cult of backwoods freaks led by Jeremiah (Roache), a blond-haired, eyeliner-wearing failed singer/songwriter who really enjoys The Carpenters. He catches a glimpse of Mandy from his van and quickly sends his minions to grab her with the help of the Black Skulls, a gang of demonic bikers in gimp suits and spiky metal straight out of Clive Barker’s ‘Hellraiser’.

Mandy is killed as Red watches helplessly. An ad for a fictitious Kraft Mac & Cheese competitor called Cheddar Goblin plays on the TV. Then the film accelerates at light speed into over-the-top grindhouse insanity.

Transformed into an avenging angel of death, Red goes after Jeremiah and the Skulls. Over the next hour, the initially muted performance evolves into unhinged, cackling Cage in his purest form. Red retrieves a crossbow from a friend (a hilariously solemn Bill Duke, ‘Predator’) whose customised arrows can “cut through flesh like a fat kid through cake” and forges a battle axe, as the doom metal-inspired score by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson pulsates in the background.

Blood is spilled by the gallon. Cage, bug-eyed and teeth bared, shrieks “YOU RIPPED MY SHIRT?”, snorts cocaine off a shard of broken glass, quaffs vodka in his undies, takes LSD and lights a cigarette off a vanquished opponent’s flaming severed head.

Blood is spilled by the gallon. Cage, bug-eyed and teeth bared, shrieks “YOU RIPPED MY SHIRT?”, snorts cocaine off a shard of broken glass, quaffs vodka in his undies, takes LSD and lights a cigarette off a vanquished opponent’s flaming severed head. In one scene, Red conducts a silent, telepathic interrogation of a drug cook, The Chemist (Richard Brake) – we see a close-up of Cage’s face frozen in a wide-eyed grimace and covered in blood. That gaze is intense, magnetic, and (according to Cage in an interview) partly inspired by Bruce Lee.

Shot in Belgium, but set in an apocalyptic Pacific Northwest of logging roads and rock quarries, the beautiful look of the film seems to be inspired by the colourful Italian horror films of Dario Argento and Mario Bava: heavy color filters, kaleidoscopic lighting, double lens flares and telephoto shots. Crude animated dream sequences bring to mind Zack Snyder’s ‘Watchmen’ and Heavy Metal comics.

Cosmatos has a magpie’s eye for filmmaking and ‘Mandy’ pays homage to a shiny selection of genre classics. An instructive comparison would be the throwback horror pastiches of Rob Zombie, but you can also chuck in John Flynn’s ‘Rolling Thunder’, Nicolas Winding Refn’s ‘Valhalla Rising’ and the films of Nicolas Roeg. The dueling-chainsaw climax of Tobe Hooper’s ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’ also gets a big, glorious nod.

If you are attuned to the very specific influences and psychedelic frequencies emitted by this movie, ‘Mandy’ is an absolute delight. As I watched Cage laying waste to foe after foe with his Frank Frazetta-style battle axe, all I could think was: “King Crimson + head crushing + Nicholas Cage + doom metal? Am I dreaming? Did Panos Cosmatos steal my mail and make this film just for me?”

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: TBA
RUN TIME: 2h 1m
CAST: Nicolas Cage
Andrea Riseborough
Linus Roache
Richard Brake
Bill Duke
Ned Dennehy
Olwen Fouéré
Clément Baronnet
Alexis Julemont
Line Pillet
DIRECTOR: Panos Cosmatos
WRITERS: Panos Cosmatos
Aaron Stewart-Ahn
PRODUCERS: Daniel Noah
Josh C. Waller
Elijah Wood
Nate Bolotin
Adrian Politowski
SCORE: Jóhann Jóhannsson
MandyTheFilm
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Looking for more Sydney Underground Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights. 
Umbrella Home Entertainment Prize Pack - Get copies of Gunda, King Otto and Relic to enjoy at home!
TRENDINGWIN UMBRELLA HOME ENTERTAINMENT PRIZE PACKGet copies of Gunda, King Otto and Relic to enjoy at home!
Cosmic Sin - A film that delivers on the promise of its title
TRENDINGCOSMIC SINA film that delivers on the promise of its title
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
The Keeper - The true story of the Nazi goalkeeper and the English girl
TRENDINGTHE KEEPERThe true story of the Nazi goalkeeper and the English girl
Jungle Cruise - Sailing into a new Disney classic adventure
TRENDINGJUNGLE CRUISESailing into a new Disney classic adventure
The World at War - The landmark documentary series restored in high definition
TRENDINGTHE WORLD AT WARThe landmark documentary series restored in high definition
Suicide Squad - A woefully dull and incomprehensible mess
TRENDINGSUICIDE SQUADA woefully dull and incomprehensible mess
The Princess Diaries - 20 years since Genovia found its princess
TRENDINGTHE PRINCESS DIARIES20 years since Genovia found its princess
River's Edge - The kids aren't alright
TRENDINGRIVER'S EDGEThe kids aren't alright
Matilda - Revolting children for 25 years
TRENDINGMATILDARevolting children for 25 years
Golden Voices - Immigration struggles with amusing challenges
TRENDINGGOLDEN VOICESImmigration struggles with amusing challenges
Boxing Day Movies 2020 - The year's biggest films bursting onto cinema screens
TRENDINGBOXING DAY MOVIES 2020The year's biggest films bursting onto cinema screens
Fanny Lye Deliver'd - Feminist folk horror
TRENDINGFANNY LYE DELIVER'DFeminist folk horror
The Last Horns of Africa - The danger, the heartache and the importance of saving the Rhinos
TRENDINGTHE LAST HORNS OF AFRICAThe danger, the heartache and the importance of saving the Rhinos
Monty Python's Flying Circus: The Complete Series - Sketches at a revolution
TRENDINGMONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS: THE COMPLETE SERIESSketches at a revolution
25 Free-to-Watch Short Horror Films - The scariest shorts we uncovered online
TRENDING25 FREE-TO-WATCH SHORT HORROR FILMSThe scariest shorts we uncovered online
Aiyai: Wrathful Soul - Ambitious but unfocused Aussie horror
TRENDINGAIYAI: WRATHFUL SOULAmbitious but unfocused Aussie horror
Midsommar: The Director's Cut - Ari Aster elevates an already remarkable film to a masterpiece
TRENDINGMIDSOMMAR: THE DIRECTOR'S CUTAri Aster elevates an already remarkable film to a masterpiece
Inseparable Bros - A heartwarming tale about disability and the power of friendship
TRENDINGINSEPARABLE BROSA heartwarming tale about disability and the power of friendship
© 2011 - 2021 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!