Review: Mandy, cleansed by fire

It’s hard to forget a name like Panos Cosmatos, especially when it belongs to the same filmmaker behind 2010’s brain-melter Beyond the Black Rainbow. And it’s honestly remarkable that he hasn’t made a movie since (until now, that is), and although we’ve had to wait eight years between films, his return to the genre was worth every bit of that long wait. In it, outsiders Red Miller and Mandy Bloom lead a loving and peaceful existence until a cult led by the sadistic Jeremiah Sand forces Red into a phantasmagoric journey filled with bloody vengeance and laced with deadly fire.

There are many ways to describe Mandy—surreal, psychedelic, dreamlike, and hallucinatory all come to mind—and yet none of them really illustrate the pure madness of Cosmatos’ film. It’s an ineffable shot in the arm, a film that swirls into a raging nightmare that don’t just watch… you experience. The experience is such an important part of Cosmatos’ storytelling crux because it forces the viewer into a world unlike any other. And that, too, is why Mandy is so damn special—there’s nothing else quite like it, a burning and vicious entity all its own that kicks every bit of ass as its protagonist does.

It’s also a tough movie to review because the story isn’t where the film shines; it’s all about the visuals and the rousing violence within them. But because I have the writing skills of an eighth grader, and thus have no hope in describing the surreal delirium of Cosmatos’ film and its batshit imagery, I want to instead focus on Nic Cage because that motherfucker is brilliant. There’s not a ton of dialog in the film, and the few scenes that have a lot of it aren’t coming from Cage’s Red—he wears all of his emotion on his face and through his actions. Cage’s performance perfectly reflects the film’s mood and atmosphere; you still get the crazy-eyed, unhinged Cage, but more importantly, you get a restrained and emotional performance from him, too. It really balances out the film in a way that I think will surprise a lot of people.

There isn’t much more I can add to the conversation about Mandy that hasn’t already been said—it’s an experience like no other, a bloodletting burst of visual wizardry from a filmmaker that has clearly done ALL the drugs. But joking aside, Panos Cosmatos is a genre visionary and he’s only just getting started with Mandy. Let that sink in. It might only be his second film, but it’s an all-timer that will latch onto your brain and turn it into a colorful, bloody mess.


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If you are ever attacked by a gorilla just sit back and relax while you enjoy the once in a life time feeling of your limbs being ripped off.

13 thoughts on “Review: Mandy, cleansed by fire

    1. Fair enough! I’m a sucker for weird (and bloody) stuff, so this movie was extremely my kind of shit. It does take a minute to really get going, though, that’s for sure.

      1. I didn’t even think it was weird. I was actually bored for most of it, which it kinda odd, considering it features a chainsaw duel and a demon with a penis sword.

  1. I loved MANDY! I saw it at a press screening, and everyone around me seemed very, very serious, and I was cackling like a madwoman with utter glee. When Nic Cage dials it up way past eleven, like my still all-time-favorite portrayals by him in RAISING ARIZONA or VAMPIRE’S KISS, I feel like I’m in the presence of a rare talent. The scene with Red in the bathroom, and the way he cycles through emotions, is really astounding. MANDY lets him go full Cage, while also allowing for this dread-filled, almost poetic landscape to embrace his fierceness. Linus Roache’s cult leader is some kind of Iggy Pop like freak show of hyper-narcissism, and all the kills are hyper-stylized and glorious. And yes, I have to agree with you, Cosmatos has done all the drugs, and this film makes me want to do some too. It had moments that reminded me of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD in the ways in which it married a singular vision with jaw-dropping visuals and a really amazing soundtrack. Yeah, I loved it!! BTW, I really like the way that your blog is constructed with “upcoming horror” and your pretty hilarious tweets on the side. “Melt your dick off” indeed!

    1. I don’t think I could have described it any better. VERY well put! I actually had a hard time putting this movie into words because it’s just so damn crazy in nearly every possible way. I, too, got some MAD MAX vibes! And thanks for the kind words! I’m glad to hear that at least one person finds the stupid shit I say on Twitter funny 🙂

  2. This is an interesting review that significantly touches upon some of the strengths of the film.

    I think Mandy is a film that presents the manly revenge thriller at its most artistic and visionary. I disagree with your reading of Cage. If anything, I think the film serves as a deconstruction of his acting persona.

    You can find out more in my review below:

    If you find the piece to your liking, then please comment and follow.

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