Man, remember when I used to talk about good movies? I don’t! According to my lovely archives, the last movie I talked about that was generally considered “good” was last month. Watching two weeks of Mothman movies does horrible things to a person, so I need to take a break from the suck. So let’s talk about Mr. Nic Cage killing a cult while high on megadrugs!
One of the interesting things about Mandy is that for the first act, the titular Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) is our main character. She’s sweet, cries when baby animals die, and we learn more about her than we ever do about her boyfriend, Red (Cage). So when a cult leader (Linus Roache, last seen here as Thomas Wayne in Batman Begins) abducts and kills her, it hurts us as well as Red (though not as much). She absolutely didn’t deserve to be burned alive, and that’s what makes Red’s bloody rampage so satisfying. I mean, beyond how absolutely fucking nuts it gets.
Out for bloody revenge, Red starts with the Black Skulls, the result of mixing a biker gang, super LSD, and apparently the Cenobites from Hellraiser. They’re not ACTUALLY demons… but I’m not 100% convinced on that fact. The gang is absolutely tougher than anyone in the cult–phallic chainsaw fight notwithstanding–so it’s another interesting choice to have Red fight them first. In a lot of other movies anything after that would fall flat, but remember: Mandy was someone that we the audience liked (or were supposed to like if you’re a cold, heartless husk of a person). Sure, these fights were fun and bonkers, but the bikers only abducted Mandy and Red. They weren’t the ones who set her on fire, so we–and Red–aren’t satisfied until he crushes the cult leader’s skull with his bare hands.
The first time I saw the trailer for this movie, I thought, “Oh this is by the same guy who did Beyond the Black Rainbow.” And I was right! But where I found Black Rainbow to be more concept than reality (thank you, Detention, for being quotable in every situation), Mandy is more approachable. It’s a revenge flick with psychedelic ultraviolence, and we know those. I Spit on Your Grave, John Wick, Inglorious Basterds, and many more. This one just has a more psychic drug manufacturers with tigers than usual. No complaints from me!
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