Nicolas Cage continues to make many movies apparently for the paycheck; in the case of fantastical imagery and incongruous juxtapositions in Mandy his outsized demeanor under Panos Cosmatos’s direction fits the necessary unhinged fury.
Here is a horror show with B-movie trappings filled with artistic shadings, including a fateful operatic soundtrack laced with overpowering heavy metal to enkindle its heavy heart with love and savagery set in an ominously remote primal 1983 Pacific Northwest wilderness.
Atmosphere is not in short supply from richly textured hues starting from a secluded cabin by the lake where hirsute, jokey, ordinary logger Red Miller (Cage) dwells with artist, minimart employee girlfriend Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough of Battle of the Sexes, Nocturnal Animals, and Oblivion) donning t-shirts of heavy metal bands of the era like Black Sabbath. Red is like a special guardian as she deals with deeply distressing childhood experiences.
Aberrant anarchy comes by way of clay-footed Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache of Non-Stop and Batman Begins) who runs a freakish sect operating out of a psychedelic van (something out of a mural) noticing Mandy and thus desiring her as she passes by it. The van and drug-addled demonic bikers are back for her as seizure, supremacy and perversion trigger a monstrously vile vengeance.
Cage embraces this oddly arresting luridness from the emotional and physical ends the writing surprisingly offers him which augments an unfettered singularity in a kind of retro homage to those old Midnight Madness features. One wonders how iconic auteurs like Sam Peckinpaugh would have finessed the material with Cage’s contortioned thespian canniness. In this berserk deviant cinema Riseborough is agile as the resigned renegade coping with the most iniquitous transgressions while Roache revels in Sand’s burned-out sadism. Mandy definitely beats to a different drummer in a way belying its limited budgetary constraints in its fixation to provide enough surreal flair in a pretty stockpiled genre.