LSD is one hell of a drug.
Psychedelics possess an uncanny ability to strip away the structures of reality and present them in a warped and foreign scope that’s indescribable to the unenlightened. Similarly, no amount of verbal illustration gives proper justice to this 2018 Sundance Film Festival selection. “Mandy” is a jarring and experimental psychedelic action horror film starring the meme man himself, Nicolas Cage.
Disclaimer: my film tastes tend to be bit darker than most films in this column, so viewer discretion is advised.
The fantastically frightening tale follows Red Miller, Cage and his wife Mandy Bloom, Andrea Riseborough, as they live a reclusive and peaceful life in the mountains. On a walk in the woods, Mandy accidentally falls in the gaze of a sinister caravan cult called the Children of the New Dawn. Jeremiah Sand, their malevolent messiah played by Linus Roache, instantly falls in love and gets his gang of cannibalistic, LSD-chugging demon-bikers to fetch her for him. When Mandy rejects Jeremiah’s love, he decides to stab Red, burn her alive in front him and leave the two for dead. Luckily (or perhaps not) Red frees himself, forges a brutal battle-axe and sets out with his trusty crossbow, “the Reaper,” to seek revenge on his love’s murderers while losing his mind in the process.
You can tell the director of this wildly chaotic flick has tasted a tab or two in his day. Far before the drug itself was introduced to the plot, director Panos Cosmatos displayed an incredible aptitude to depict intense hallucinations in his imagery. His experimental editing allowed him to pour in vibrant colors, warp faces and employ many other means of distortion to the film. In one acid flashback inducing scene, we watch as Jeremiah’s red-colored face morphs back and forth between Mandy’s to his own through their dark, dilated pupils. The film is a trip to say the least.
The gritty, blood-soaked intensity of the narrative is driven by a shockingly raw and emotional performance from Nicholas Cage. His acting is a long-shot from his less-than-stellar appearances in “The Wicker Man” and “Ghost Rider,” proving that Cage isn’t as much of a joke as pop-culture likes to portray him.
“Mandy” runs a bit over two hours so buckle up for one of the dark, thrilling and kick-ass thrill ride.