Red Miller and Mandy Bloom are a happy couple living a peaceful remote life together. Red is a logger and Mandy is a gas station clerk. She’s also an illustrator which Red admires a great deal. The life they live is wonderful and uncomplicated, that is until this placid life is shattered by a cult named The Children of The Dawn and their brutally evil leader Jeremiah Sand. Soon, Red finds himself immersed in a drug-induced frenzied slaughter as he reeks vengeance on every person that has done him wrong.
Drugs, demon bikers, crazy cults, lots of blood, battle axes and brutal deaths! All of these ingredients make for a amazingly awesome movie!
Mandy is a 2018 action/horror film directed by a fairly new director named Panos Cosmatos. Starring Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, and Linus Roache. Mandy was officially released as a Sundance film in January. It quickly won critical acclaim; receiving a larger theatrical release in September that same year. Literally just a couple of weeks ago it was released on Amazon. From there it has gained widespread popularity for it’s surreal directing and blazing performance by the entire cast. especially Nicolas Cage.
If there was a movie that best represented a heavy metal cover then this would be it. Even the “innertitle” screens are done in a heavy metal font. It’s truly one of the best aesthetics of the movie. For some reason I always see the title screens like you were watching through the view of the Nintendo Virtual Boy!
Mandy is mesmerizing, brutal, gorgeous, sick, thought provoking and completely kick ass. Fans of the Kubrick/Lynch style cinematography mixed in with psychotic violence and deep seeded meaning will delight in this blood bath. With Mandy or any surreal film like this, often times the strength of the scenes aren’t met with a great deal of dialogue. The emotion and message is felt through the visuals. Which means it’s a movie for adults and not morons! I’ve watched Mandy nearly five times already and each time is a new experience.
The story itself isn’t really anything new. Many people may watch the entire film and say “What the hell did I just watch? Demon bikers, crazed cult members, Nicolas Cage chugging a bottle of Vodka and making a battle ax? Chainsaw battles and dudes with knives for a dingus! I don’t get it but dang that was awesome!”
I love that the movie is set in the 80’s yet doesn’t go overboard with the 80’s references like some movies do. There are a few homage references in the film and they’re not hard to miss. Things like Friday The 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 are extremely easy to see. But I loved that Tor Books is given a spotlight in this movie! Nerd alert! I’m a huge Wheel of Time fan so seeing a Tor reference blew my mind.
Seriously though, if you’ve seen that 2006 movie The Marine with the Academy Award Winning John Cena (please note the sarcasm) then that’s the story right there. Except Mandy isn’t a pile of wrestling garbage. Can I just ask that if wrestlers start acting in movies, that they don’t use wrestling moves as fighting styles. I’m no Marine, but I doubt the Marines are taught body slams or choke slams in hand-to-hand combat tactics.
Cage in A Cage
I mentioned before that the film has been praised for acting performance and I’m not kidding. This is Nicolas Cage is at his finest. He goes in absolute berserk mode and it is a thing of beauty. He has those crazy eyes and that strange jacked up smile. Think of all of his films like Wicker Man, Bad Lieutenant or Lord of War. Cage literally has moments of insanity in those films and Mandy takes all of those and multiplies it by twenty with a slaughtered goat on top! I loved his performance as Red and found myself feeling so many emotions and developing sincere attachments to the character Red.
The other character that pulls off a mesmerizing performance is Linus Roache. He plays Jeremiah Sand, the antagonist and leader of the Children of the Dawn. This guy is dark and twisted. A manipulator that would could make Hillary Clinton grovel to her knees. Roache makes you hate this man Sand and fear him above all others. There are these demonic bikers that make an appearance. They’re all bound in black leather, studded with metal spikes and chains. They drink a highly concentrated form of LSD and consume human flesh, yet Jeremiah Sand scares me more than them. Demon psychos is a straight forward thing, you know what you’re gonna get. Violence and growling. A psychotic cult leader is a blind trail caught in nightmarish hail storm.
There are many theories as to the meaning behind the movie. At first glance you may say it’s a story about a man committing great acts of violence against terrible people. Yes, if you want to think that and take it as a two hour narcotic fueled murder fest then be my guest. But Mandy is a much deeper film.
!! Minor Spoilers Alert !!
In my opinion Reds bloodbath is a metaphor for battling substance abuse. It might be a long stretch but I saw the character Mandy as being Reds sobriety. Losing her brings him back into the dark recesses of addiction. The only memories of Mandy that he sees are animated depictions, an ultimate form of memories that you want to get back.
As you can see before Red goes on his killing spree, he quickly goes to an associate to retrieve an old weapon. Then he starts welding a giant death metal battle ax. No planning, no blue prints. He just goes right to work like he was a grade A weapons maker. As if this is a ritual he’s been used to. He then knows exactly where to go and how to kill. Red is fighting literal and metaphorical demons and striving to rid the world of the things that keep him addicted. His revenge on the cult and demon bikers could be his way of bringing Mandy ( his sobriety) back. It’s not until the end, going through a drug induced battle and cleansing his conscience of his temptations and addictions does he free himself. By finishing off Sand he then re-establishes his sobriety. In the end, bloodied and torn; Red is driving away from his carnage and Mandy sits next to him once more. Smiling and giving Red true comfort.
End of Spoiler
So I could be wrong. I gave it my best shot and that’s what I came up with. If you’ve seen Mandy then please by all means let me know your opinions. It truly is a movie worth deep conversation and I would love to see what other people have come up with. There are other theories online like Mandy is a nymph and Red caught her. It’s why the cult leader Sand (an actual demon claiming to be God) want her so much. It could be a message about losing a loved one and the inner battles one faces. Whatever the case, I would love to hear yours.
Whatever the meaning behind the film, I think it’s something we can all admire. I truly hope Panos Cosmatos makes other films just like this because I loved Mandy. I admire how there is meaning and artistic expression behind a pretty typical story. In this it makes Mandy completely separate and original. You don’t see a great deal of movies being made like this. I also love the brutal violence and gore of the film. It’s not a film you would watch with your mother. Maybe let your grandma watch it and have some deep meaningful conversations. Which is why I’ve selected this 2018 masterpiece for day two of Horror Movie Marathon 2018!