Revenge themed movies, hold a special secure footing in the horror genre, however this movie balances the line of revenge and straight-up horror quite well, while continues the same path of arthouse horror, that director and writer Panos Cosmatos, did with his first movie while setting in the same year of 1983. A truly a bizarre movie, rich on vivid colors helping the viewer enter into an unusual world of fantastic design, while maintaining a gritty twisting story-line. One needs to stress, Panos’ movie contains arthouse measures for over the first half of the movie, before dramatically switching gears into a horror homage story. This film while distributed by XYZ Films in worldwide distribution, uses the production company Legion M to co-produce the film and use one of the final soundtracks from composer Jóhann Jóhannsson who tragically died in February 2018.
Before telling about the movie, one must note the work-horse Nicolas Cage, who does maddening roles, and sometimes on wretched productions, such as the remake of Wicker Man (2006), and a so-so film called Pay the Ghost (2015) although recently the acclaimed flick Mom & Dad (2017) , face it, he’s the actor that actual eats his background or props remember the live cockroach in Vampire’s Kiss (1988).
Mandy, the film is set at a very isolated cabin located somewhere in the Northwest, Red Miller (Cage), is a logger returning home after another brutal season, to enjoy quiet with his wife, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) and the lake in a tranquil setting. She works in town, and takes the spare time to enjoy painting, reading, and loving her man. The set design takes true precision to capture the early eighties themes, and even extended to the characters namely fragile male ego. One day things go extremely bad for this couple, when Jeremiah (Linus Roache), a leader of a cult called Children of the New Dawn, spots Mandy, and finds her to be very irresistible. Hence, enlists his satanic themed followers namely bikers to conduct a home invasion thereby binding Red, while he sadly gets to watch them devour of anger and sexual assault of his wife. The leader fails in his attempts to take her even with the drugs and other means, weird wacko scene, but a must-see moment. Her rejections, angers him, causing a sadistic brutalizing response and ending her existence, they simply leave without any cares, as he believes Red is dead. However, time to switch gears wearing only underwear and a t-shirt, recalling his Oscar worthy role guzzles booze and gets his rage into the mindset for the kicking ass portion of the film. A clear mentality that anyone identifies mess with my family, kill my woman, your life terminates now, in the same sadistic manner. This all takes places through an effective last act, aided by drugs and more alcohol, Dr. Phil likely wouldn’t be happy with this grieving process. Red also stocks on a series of homemade weapons, think MacGyver meets Reggie from Phantasm II, and they shop at a hardware and gun shop, yeah of the hook, in the toy department. As one recalls Red finished the season as a logger, hence an experienced man with a chainsaw, yes, a saw fight in what appears an apocalyptic hell-fest, as he provides as lunatic freak moment for gore-hounds and spaltter-punks for the blood and gore, as the reenactment the infamous scene from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
The movie, presents as night day and night, two separate halves of one whole film, with monotone moments in the beginning leaning into slow, and perhaps even sluggish pacing, trying viewers patience. However, the cinematography works from Benjamin Loeb, aided by Panos’ direction and accompanied by Jóhannsson’s compositions, for the scenes, blending everything together, crafty style, especially setting up the Cage-rage tirade portion in the movie.
While the movie clocks in just a minute of the 2-hour mark, which is often a dreaded time stamp for a horror film, unless the story-line, truly compelling, which it is here, and Panos incorporates action sequences and thriller moments throughout the second half of the movie engaging the audience it a wild visual spectrum overload of their scenes. Perhaps the goal is to saturate the eyes with so much, that more than one viewing is needed to absorb everything hidden in the movie, then it succeeds wonderfully, for this reviewer needed 3-screenings to understand the incredible layering. The film contains a deep arthouse presentation, and almost tedious sense of slow pacing in the early stages, pouring in a doom and gloom quality at the mid-way point, which gives the viewer a glimmer of hope while combating strange imagery. Therefore, one needs to choose for themselves, whether you want to venture down this bizarre path, if you like The Void (2016), then this might fit into a weekend of repeated viewings.
IMDb rating: 6.7/10
Baron’s Rating: 6.0/10