Premièring last week at the Sundance Film Festival was a Nicholas Cage movie called Mandy, in which Cage must seek revenge against a gang that has murdered a loved one. Yawn, I hear you say and yes, YAWN. Death Wish knock-offs are ten a penny and you can even watch Bruce Willis collect his pension in the remake this year. They’re not anything new to Cage either. In 2016 he starred in Vengeance: A Love Story, one of the most generic rape/revenge movies going. Brian Orndorf from Bluray.com summed up the film by stating that ‘if one is only interested in watching poorly coiffed, dentally challenged fiends receive their just deserts, there are worse options out there, with most of them also starring Nicolas Cage.’ So what was Mandy, this other Nic Cage revenge thriller doing, opening at Sundance?
Before I go into any detail about what on earth it was doing outside of a redbox, I want to show you the posters of both Mandy and Vengence: A Love Story.
I think that says it all. We have this badly photo-shopped shit on the left, with Nic looking like an old man who can’t remember if he left the oven on. I’m also fairly sure Nietzsche is rolling in his grave at the slogan ‘Beyond Good and Evil is Justice’ Then on the right we have the poster for Mandy, a film that looks like it belongs to that bonkers, midnight-movie, acid-trip genre, home to films like The Keep and The Visitor.
It seems this revenge plot is a simple skeleton to host an awful lot of psychedelic mayhem. Director Panos Cosmatos said in an interview for Deadline that ‘I prefer stories, story lines that are simple so you can build the themes and the characters and let those breathe rather than having to service an over-complicated story line.’ That might sound like a lame excuse but Cosmatos has already proven his dedication to this philosophy with a 2010 film called Beyond the Black Rainbow.
Unlike the cookie cutter revenge movies we mentioned, Beyond the Black Rainbow was almost unique in its bizarre genre of slow sci-fi schlock. So we have these long atmospheric scenes, a simple plot which relies on visuals to tell its story and some of the trippiest shots ever recorded on film. The stand-out sequence involves a psychedelic experience gone wrong and it has visuals which haunted me. The beautiful retro synth soundtrack seals the deal. I implore you to check it out and do try and be patient with it. Its slow start pays off.
The early buzz out of Sundance seems to confirm that Mandy continues Cosmato’s philosophy of bare bones story and trippy visuals, but we now have the added element of the craziest Nic Cage performance in years. Mandy is yet to confirm a release date but look out for it’s no doubt awe-inspiring trailer shortly.
For more on Nic Cage check out what we thought of his Taken knock-off Stolen.
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