The closing film for Fantasia is usually less of a loaded dice than the opening one. Usually. I feel this year, we’ve really stirred the pot a bit. The opening film didn’t do much for me, nor do I felt it a good fit for Fantasia. The closing film however, is much closer to a Fantasia film and it is a genre film itself. I should warn you, it does get very, very trippy.
Mandy is director Panos Cosmatos’ creation but it’s a Nicholas Cage vehicle all the way. Rather than the actor disappearing into the role or the movie being engulfed by Cage, seems like a mutual symbiosis. The result is that the movie ends up being as much as an acquired taste as Cage is, perhaps even more.
The film is terrifying, but I am convinced it does accomplish what it has set out to do. The audience experiments feelings of torture, revulsion and rage just as Cage does. We are also treated to visions from the crazy and weird late 70’s genre films and Heavy Metal magazine. It turns out that we’re just setting up for a second half of what ends up being a revenge movie. Yes, at its core this is just a revenge plot. Have I inadvertently end up following a revenge movie trend this year?
The movie starts on the Shadow Mountains, circa 1983. We know this because it’s highlighted in sparkly blue letters that could come from a fiction novel from the same time period. Actually we get titles for all our parts, including Children of the New Dawn (that sounds like a book already) which depicts the desecration of Red Miller (that’s Cage’s character name, I swear). Only somewhere past the hour mark, do we get the title character’s name Mandy as the revenge stage begins.
Only recommended for Nicholas Cage completists or old school genre fans with reservations. Cage does love his characters tortured so you must endure a hell of a lot of a first hour before the tide finally turns and we get the payback which includes crossbows, axes and a chainsaw duel. The director often resorts to darkened scenarios that are creatively backlit with eerie satanic red or radioactive green. It’s weird, it’s bizarre and it might be the only movie freakish enough to come close to match Cage himself.
That will do for now.