Is ‘Mandy’ a Gift From the Rock Gods or the Rock Devil?

The Answer is Yes And It’s Awesome

Texas executed a man named Douglas Roberts in 2005 for kidnapping, robbery, and murder. His final words are the first thing to fill the screen of Mandy, director Panos Cosmatos‘ maniacal follow up to his 2010 sci-fi feature Beyond the Black Rainbow:

“When I die, bury me deep. Lay two speakers at my feet, put some headphones on my head, and rock ‘n’ roll me when I’m dead.”


MANDY ★★★★ (4/5 stars)
Directed by: Panos Cosmatos
Written by: Panos Cosmatos and Aaron Stewart-Ahn
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough
Running time: 121 min.


 

You can forgive yourself if you don’t immediately recognize the capital punishment lullaby, but you should consider yourself forewarned at that point about how metal this movie is about to be.

Part Death Wish, part Hellraiser, this descent into bloody madness follows the slow, isolated love story of the titular Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) and Red (Nicolas Cage) in the Shadow Mountains, “1983 A.D.”

Mandy makes the unfortunate mistake of, I guess, just existing in front of the eyes of a crazy religious cult leader who has the very cult-leadery name of Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache).  Sand puts his cult goons up to kidnapping Mandy to satisfy his god-complex lust, and this involves invoking a demonic biker gang who look like Cenobites if you summoned them directly from George Miller.

Things go badly for Mandy, and, well, if you’re reading this, you’re probably are here for the Nicolas Cage-ness of this film. Well, the final act of this film will serve you what you crave.

Forgive me if this is spoilers territory, but battle axe foundry cheddar goblin LSD dick blade neck snap cocaine. I didn’t just have a stroke. Those are things you will find therein.

Mandy operates somewhere between insanity and sweetness, between drug-fueled rage and clear-eyed beauty. Cosmatos has, in two films, established some signatures that have endeared him to the midnighter crowd, which mostly longs for the days of a 1980s aesthetic. He lives in crimson and slow morph cuts, neon washes of color and film grain. But none of that matters if there isn’t something beneath the surface.

Roberts committed his crimes in Texas while in the grips of a crack cocaine high, and Red’s rampage is fueled by cocaine and acid. Make of that what you will.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t address something. At this point we can all agree that the fridging women trope needed to end long ago. But if there’s such a thing as a proper sendoff for it, facilitating the end-all, be-all Nic Cage freakout rampage is it. Let’s bury that trope and lay two speakers at its feet.

Pablo Gallaga

Pablo Gallaga is a former video blogger and recapper for Television Without Pity (RIP). You can probably find him at an Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas. He will thwart your alien invasion by uploading a rudimentary computer virus to your mothership using a 1996 Apple Powerbook and no Wi-Fi.

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