Lyric Review: Nick Cage makes a chaotic, bloody, return in “Mandy”

Ty Davis

“Mandy” is what you get when you let a metal head obsessed with 80’s metal imagery create a piece of fiction. Though excessively simple, the indie slasher flick gloriously meets its goals of making a chaotic, horror-themed revenge story.

Riding off of the current wave of 80s nostalgia, “Mandy” is steeped in 80s iconography. What sets the film apart from other media taking place in the same time like “Stranger Things,” “Glow” and “White Boy Rick” is its preoccupation with 80s metal culture, cultism, and the satanic panic.

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For those unfamiliar, the “satanic panic” was a media fixation in the late 70s and early 80s in which groups of parents were convinced teenagers were being indoctrinated in satanism and the occult. Similar to the “pregnancy pact” scare of the late 00’s, the satanic panic was little more than a delusion started by hysterical parental groups and exacerbated by media, and helped inspire works like “The Exorcist” and Stephen King’s “Carrie.”

Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) and Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough), are hermetic metalheads living in the mountains of presumably the American north-west. One day while on a walk, Mandy is spotted by cult leader Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) who decides, through ridiculous cultist justifications, that he must have sex with her. The cultists launch a plan to kidnap Mandy, which sends Red into a suicidal, drug-fueled, revenge tirade.

What the film lacks in story it makes up for in a gloriously horrific presentation. The film has many influences it wears on its sleeve, not just from metal, but also from horror movies and fantasy which can be seen in brief animated segments and also through Red’s use of medieval weaponry.

“Mandy” is now playing at The Lyric Cinema.

The influence of movies like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Halloween” and “Hellraiser” can be seen starkly not only in the direction and plot of the film but also in the film’s secondary antagonists; a group of motorcycle riding, homicidal, leather-bound killers who roam the countryside and appear to help Jeremiah kidnap Mandy.

By now you can assume “Mandy” is an over-the-top film. After the kidnapping, the film drops all pretense of the story and descends into a non-stop killing spree. The action is well choreographed and Cage is surprisingly spry for his age, making great use of set pieces and brutal, grounded fighting to deliver a gory spectacle.

It cannot be stressed enough how much this films brilliance lies in its presentation. The film looks like it leaped right out of the pages of Heavy Metal magazine with otherworldly environments, black suns, and dark fantasy elements. Even Red’s use of weaponry, a glistening Gothically-ornate ax, embodies this aesthetic to a T.

Should you see it? Absolutely. 

Cage appears surprisingly restrained and seems to have calmed down in this film. He can still muster a type of manic energy well suited for his character’s drug-fueled descent into madness, but instead of the unrestrained chaos of older performances, this one is more refined. He exhibits a lot more control even in situations which call for pure insanity on his character’s part.

Ty Davis can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @tydavisACW. 

 

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