Cage Match

The cult movie of the year doesn’t stand up to scrutiny

Film Review | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Mandy
RPL Film Theatre

December 21–23

Hollywood abandoned him following a couple of flops (Season of the Witch anyone?) but Nicolas Cage has carved a niche for himself in the on-demand market. By starring in off-kilter fare like Mom and Dad and Dog Eat Dog, Cage has worked his way back into the collective psyche — albeit as the actor willing to go to ridiculous extremes others wouldn’t dare.

The most notable of these titles is Mandy. The sophomore effort of BC-based director Panos Cosmatos has been a meme-generating machine since before its release. I can report that the rumors are true: it features one of Cage’s most unhinged performances, nightmarish visuals, the final Johann Johannsson score and a neat chainsaw fight.

Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but Mandy also has a lot of problems, mainly that the top half is a slog. As good as Cosmatos is at atmosphere and nightmarish scenarios, he would benefit from working with someone who keeps his self-indulgent tendencies in check. Those who have seen the seizure-inducing Beyond the Black Rainbow know what I’m talking about.

The plot is average exploitation stuff: Red and Mandy (Cage and Andrea Riseborough) are a couple living in a secluded cabin in the woods. They are targeted by a cult led by a failed singer-songwriter (Linus Roache, the unsung hero of this thing), who believes he has a supernatural connection with Mandy. Drug-enhanced horror ensues, followed by the compulsory, blood-drenched rampage in the name of revenge.

The execution is where Mandy shines. When it’s not bogged down by stupid mystical diatribes (and there are a lot of those), Red’s journey truly feels like a descent into some kind of hell. Cage does unbalanced like no one else but his actions are firmly rooted in character, and Riseborough and Roache match him beat by beat.

The problem with Mandy is that no one’s likely to watch this as a movie—it’s all about waiting to see what the movie’s next crazy move is.

Not enough for a satisfactory experience. Your mileage may differ.