11th October 2018 8.45pm at odeontcr: Odeon Tottenham Court Road
12th October 2018 6.10pm at Rich Mix
8th October 2018 6.10pm at Prince Charles Cinema
Nicolas Cage is back again, this time in a role seemingly moulded to fit the man down to every hair follicle. The project itself comes from Italian-Canadian director Panos Cosmatos, previously known for his work on Beyond the Black Rainbow, and co-writer Aaron Stewart-Ahn – a man so experienced in every industry position he could very likely write, produce and shoot his own movie all by himself. Being the first time these two individuals have worked together, there has been a keen sense of intrigue surrounding the project, made even more compelling when in June 2017 it was announced that avant-garde Cage was joining the cast. A cult spectacle was beginning to emerge from the undergrowth and now, after a year of waiting, Mandy has arrived and this reviewer can honestly say that this film is like no other.
Set in the year 1983, Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) is working and living as a Lumberjack with his girlfriend Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) in the Californian Shadow Mountains. Living the tranquil lifestyle of their choice, the couple indulge themselves in psychological relaxation as they endeavour to recover from previous hardships in a former life. But after Mandy takes an innocent walk through the woods, their serene environment is shattered by the lucid presence of a drug-infused cult named Children of the New Dawn, and it is soon discovered that their lives will never be the same again. In search of bloody revenge upon the cult followers of Jeremiah Sands (Linus Roache) and the demonic Black Skulls biker gang that invoked such suffering upon them, Red harnesses his rage, and with a little guidance from ally Caruthers (Bill Duke), he begins to enact a merciless hunt that will not end until every head has rolled.
Firstly, to say Mandy is a visual experience would be a serious understatement. The film is one sensational, unashamedly visceral LSD trip, from its enthralling plot to its psychedelic cinematography and soundtrack. You may struggle to breathe at certain points in this endearing and mesmerising movie, with scenes of sensually enchanting dialect and optics blended in such a dreamlike manner with outstandingly intense animated horror and bloodstained gore. Essentially shot in two acts, the feature takes the audience first on a psychological journey of discovery, warming each pair of eyes to the visual effects – most notably during one captivating face-focused monologue featuring Roache and Riseborough – and laying down the film’s stylistic guidelines as we establish our core characters. Then, with the help of the title card appearing midway through the running time, the picture goes “full Nic Cage” and veer’s off into a direction that the actor’s all-knowing fan club have come to appreciate in a performance not short of laughs – especially with the helping hand of a Cheddar Goblin (don’t ask).
The narrative does descend into pure chaos but impressively holds its own thanks to well shot and choreographed fight scenes that also provide a slice of entertainment in more ways than one. The ever-ringing soundtrack, a rocky distortion of unnerving hypnagogic music crafted expertly by the late Johann Johannsson, brings additional dimensions to the feature, inducing further emotional rises that result in an altogether stunning spectacle of a film. Think of a supernatural Mad Max spin-off and you’re only halfway close to the artistic creation that is Mandy.
Mandy is released nationwide on 12th October 2018.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Mandy here: