Nicholas Cage doing what he can in a horror/alien/bloody revenge film.
Director: Panos Cosmatos (Beyond the Black Rainbow)
Screenplay: Cosmatos, Aaron Stewart-Ahn,
Cast: Nicholas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas), Andrea Riseborough (Birdman)
Runtime: 2 hr 1 min
By: John DeSando
If you are comfortable with Sam Remi’s Evil Dead trilogy, then you should be relaxed and receptive for Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy. It stars the ever-manic Nick Cage (a must see for those hooked on his regularly hyperbolic delivery) as Red Miller, a recluse living in the appropriately-named Shadow Mountains of California.
Idyllic it is for him and his wife, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough), accompanied by some swelling and thunderous background music that does an effective job of supporting the mood. As it happens, this is a horror/revenge movie, so their lovely days are numbered thanks to alien motorcyclists and some very bad Jesus freaks (it is, after all, 1983), who abduct her and do some Evil-Dead-worthy torture on her.
Red is off to apply his gory brand of revenge for each of the miscreants. The plot doesn’t indulge in much detective work because it’s the justice he metes out that interests us, along with some phantasmagoric bloody-red background and an ample supply of fire (Hell, Anybody?).
Writer/director Cosmatos’ care of the genre is no more apparent than his dueling chainsaw sequence, where Texas and every other rowdy state can have fun watching the mayhem. Laughs aren’t plentiful, but the cultural tropes about women as seductresses and religion as maddening are solidly in place.
As in Cage’s Ghost Rider and other strange, sometimes sem- supernatural biker stories, Nick grimaces and shouts under the influence of alcohol and unknown substances, no doubt in joy that he can pay his alimonies and further compromise his Oscar. As for us, cringing in safety is a major delight of horror films in general and Mandy in particular.
Why the powerful soundtrack doesn’t treat us to Manilow’s ‘70’s sentimental ballad Mandy is a bit baffling. But no more so than why Cage continues to make a living in strange movies.
“You vicious snowflake.” Red Miller to a brutal alien.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com