Let’s get the CAGE RAGE!
I ended up missing the boat on this one when it released. Mandy is a hallucinogenic revenge/horror hybrid that features Nic Cage as the unhinged Red who seeks justice after his wife Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) is kidnapped by weirdo cult leader Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache). The plot might be a bit meager, but the acid-soaked visuals push this one into a unique territory.
It was weird to watch this one shortly after Without Remorse, where the revenge aspects mean no character development. Here, we got quite a bit of time with Red and Mandy being in love and enjoying one another. There is a sleepy and dreamy quality to roughly the first half of the film. Some of these moments border on slow, but never quite get fully into that territory.
While this film does the revenge driver much better, it is still stuck in its genre moorings. We all know (particularly with advertising) that Mandy’s existence is limited in this film, so we’re all kind of waiting for the event to occur. In short, this one does a better job than the all too serious genre flicks that have come since.
Where this one differs itself greatly is the strange hallucinatory presentation of the film. Sometimes it is oddly hypnotic as faces blur and heavy filtration gives everything a sort of drug-induced feel. I liked the visual style, a lot. Mix in a dissonant heavy-metal infused soundtrack and we’ve got a surreal and weird film.
Cage’s mega-acting fits here. He does not unleash the beast until the second half and when he does…. Oh boy. There is ample brutality in many of the sequences, and I would be remiss if I did not mention that there is a chainsaw fight, which is a major selling point.
I’ve seen some say this film is style over substance, but I would say that the style is the substance. Without the unique visuals, we’d just have another revenge film, which we have too many of already. The weird feel of the movie lets it break away (somewhat) from the genre and moves it out of “just another” category.
As much as I enjoyed this one, I found myself not loving it. All the characters are interesting. The unhinged Sand is given a lengthy and disturbing scene where he is trying to indoctrinate Mandy. This scene is both campy and creepy as well as completely ridiculous but oddly real feeling. His character shines here. Yet, after the revenge begins, we don’t see him until much later. Likewise, even Cage is absent for large chunks of the film. With the lengthy running time we have a bit of a double-edged sword: the film is both too long and too short. More time with any of the characters would be welcome.
While not perfect, it is a truly unique film. Imagine every heavy metal album cover being made into a movie and you’ve got Mandy. Come for the uniqueness, stay for the Cage Rage.