NZIFF: Mandy

2 hr. 0 min. | Rated R18 | for violence, offensive language, drug use, sex sc

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Bill Duke, Richard Brake

It was labelled the ‘midnight-iest’ of midnight films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It promised Nicolas Cage in full beast mode surrounded by dream fugues, animation, psychedelia and demonic symbolism. And it delivered on those promises and more. Now it’s your turn – to turn up, tune in and wig the f-out.

Director Panos Cosmatos’ debut feature, the surreal and atmospheric Beyond the Black Rainbow, was a real eye-opener, but now he’s back to rip your eyes out. Things begin quietly and soothingly enough in his sophomore effort as we meet lumberjack Red (Cage), who lives with his beloved Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) in a remote cabin – an enviable idyllic co-existence that involves lazing under blankets beneath moonlight and whispering sweet nothings. Before long, into this Prozaced wilderness rom-com comes The Children of the New Dawn – a cult run by Jeremiah (Linus Roach), who has eyes for Mandy and demands “Get me that girl!” to his followers.

After suiting up in their Frank Frazetta-inspired heavy metal armour, the cult descends on the couple’s tranquil abode, over-powering Red, kidnapping Mandy and performing an acid wasp-sting ritual before posing the terrifying question, “Do you like The Carpenters?” Eventually Red breaks loose (just before all hell does) as the narrative dissolves like strong lysergic acid and begins invoking the aesthetic of fantasy novels and heavy metal imagery. As Red, Cage is gloriously and ferociously over-the-top, taking us along on one hell of a vengeance-seeking, tripping-balls-to-the-max path of bloodlust and spiritual salvation. — AT

“Mandy is an undulating, heavy-metal screensaver of a film… This is also a movie where Nicolas Cage slays a demon alien and then does a huge line of cocaine, but that almost seems redundant. Nicolas Cage doesn’t need to do cocaine to get lit. Cocaine ought to try Nicolas Cage.” — Kyle Buchanan, Vulture

Trailer

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Poster of NZIFF: Mandy