Horror on LSD- A “Mandy” Review

Since his directorial and screenplay debut in 2010 entitled Beyond the Black Rainbow, Italian-Canadian director Panos Cosmatos had a limited released of his new project, Mandy, on Sept. 14, 2018.

Mandy is the last film scored from the recently passed two time Oscar nominated Icelandic composer, Johann Johannsson, whose major works were for films such as The Theory of Everything and Arrival. The film was released from independent film distribution company RLJE Films and has already earned itself a 94 percent rating of approval from the reviewing website Rotten Tomatoes.

The film works both as a riveting narrative and an interesting take into the old theme of revenge, and how individuals choose to handle loss when presented with it. The film shines in a multitude of ways, one being its atmosphere of a re-imagined 1984 U.S where Earth is the same in an environmental aspect but with more mystical qualities with the inclusion of fictional creatures and artifacts.

Accompanied with these fictional characters, is a wonderfully composed score from Johannsson, invoking an ethereal feeling in the world we see and the characters we are drawn to. Much of this film’s score is inspired by heavy metal with its overbearing guitar chords and a industrial style of synthesized music.

Our protagonist, played by Nicholas Cage, is Red Miller, a lonesome individual who works as a logger residing somewhere in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, Mandy- an introvert and both physically and emotionally scarred person who spends most of her time in a fictional world of the stories she reads. The interaction between both characters is a relationship built off of mutual contentment and comes off as genuine from the beginning.

Not too long into the film, the audience introduced to the antagonists of the film, the self righteous, and complex figure driven by a narrow view of faith, Jeremiah Sand and his cult. Jeremiah is a character almost a borderline between Silence of the Lambs’ sinister villain, Buffalo Bill, and someone becoming the physical embodiment of their vision of a deity. Mandy’s pacing picks up about halfway through the film with Red’s hunt for Jeremiah, with the style of editing acting to invoke what Red feels throughout the film- pure adrenaline. Mandy is presented as a dark thriller, with balanced aspects of choreographed action scenes, scenes Cage described as “Bruce Lee inspired.” The overall cinematography gives it the flare that other revenge films don’t quite have.

Mandy is one of the more original films of the year, alongside Boots Riley’s dark comedy Sorry To Bother You, and Ari Aster’s spiritual horror film, Hereditary. Considering Mandy had a limited release, the run is now over. However, the film was released on digital and physical formats Oct. 30, 2018.

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