Mandy (Movie Review)

New Horror/Fantasy film Mandy is like a two hour long ride on an unstoppable train. Unsuspecting audience members seated within its cars are welcomed to eye-popping, jaw-dropping imagery seen from outside every window as the train moves at full speed. There is no slowing down here, and the only time this train will stop is way after the credits have rolled up the big screen.

Mandy still.

Distribution company RLJE Films releases Mandy on Friday, September 14, 2018, where the ride will begin its journey across movie theatres for passengers holding boarding passes, and for those wanting to experience the ultimate adrenaline rush. The conductor’s voice is heard saying “Fasten your seatbelts, sit back, and enjoy the ride, ladies and gentlemen” over the loudspeaker, right before the lights turn off. The train moves, slowly progressing in speed in pitch black darkness- when all of a sudden, imagery begins appearing from all around the audience.

Imagery seen is a story unfolding, telling the tale of a happy couple – Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough: Never Let Me Go 2010, Oblivion 2013) and Red Miller (Nicolas Cage: Con Air 1997, Knowing 2009) – living together in a house secluded in the woods where they soon fall prey to a vicious religious cult, and to a trio of motorcycle-driving, leather-clad supernatural beings. All hell breaks loose when Mandy Bloom is taken hostage, and all Hell will burn in its own flame when Red Miller goes after those who have wronged their happy, quiet life together.

The conductor of this speeding train is Writer/Director Panos Cosmatos (Beyond The Black Rainbow 2010), taking the audience through dark tunnels to an otherworldly dimension of his imagination. He disguised this dimension as a movie set just to fool his hired cast and crew into joining him aboard the train; and Co-Writer/Conspirator Aaron Stewart-Ahn, helped with this disguise, providing one hell of a thrilling ride.

The mood for Mandy is set during a long, slow burn beginning (the train slowly moving along the tracks ) – acquainting the audience with various characters in scenes dripping with ominous, dreary gloom – right before Panos puts the train into full-throttle during the breath-taking second-half of the film. Although Mandy is set in the year 1983, it makes not a lick of difference because it is never noticed, but the mood, style, and even the music resemble movies made back in the ’80s and ’90s, telling the audience from where Panos had channeled most of his influences. This resemblance is what gives Mandy its heart and soul, but within each vein flows the blood of Panos.

Mandy still.

The cinematography is pure eye-candy, as well as the lighting and all the different colors highlighting almost every scene. Panos also broke the film into chapters of sorts, displaying a title before each one starts. Cameras move at a steady pace, capturing all the right moments in many imaginative ways. One particular scene is of a hysterical Cage drinking from a bottle of vodka.

Keeping a review of an awesome movie short and sweet is challenging because the reviewer just wants to give credit to everyone involved, instead of bunching them all into groups, but some key elements that make Mandy such a powerful movie, aesthetically, are the visual effects – which are absolutely stunning, and look all too rea – and the practical special effects during some of the gorier moments are exactly what Horror movie buffs crave in their films, especially during this nostalgic trip Panos calls Mandy.

Riseborough and Cage are fantastic together, portraying two people happily in love. There will be times when Cage will cause tears to run from the eyes during Red’s most enraged moments, and hearts to pound relentlessly during his many journeys, all while the audience will keep fingers crossed hoping the shy, fragile Mandy Bloom will be okay. One drug-induced scene involving Riseborough’s character will have many people watching at the edge of a seat, cringing to know what will happen next.

Making a welcoming appearance is Actor Bill Duke (Predator 1987, Fever 1999) starring as Caruthers, an old, trusted friend to Red Miller. Although his scene is brief, seeing powerhouse Bill Duke acting again is yet another trip down memory lane of a time when cinema was at its best. Last but not least is the very presence of Actor Linus Roache (Chronicles Of Riddick 2004; Innocence 2013) as the evil cult leader Jeremiah Sand, whose every scene is as demanding as the last, showcasing one twisted individual with such flair and charisma.

Mandy still.

Mandy is an exhilarating ride from start to finish, brandishing some of the most imaginative scenes in movie history. This is no ordinary Horror film: it is a work of art, down to every last colorful detail. Mandy knows when to be dramatic, when to be horrific and scary, and when to be completely absurd—and, at times, even when to be downright funny, occuring during the uncanniest of times.

Proof that Panos has an eye for making a great film is splayed throughout the duration of Mandy‘s running-time. There is never a dull moment, and never a time when Mandy shows signs of ever slowing down. Panos hired a very talented cast and crew, and there is wonder if any of the people involved in making Mandy have returned from the otherworldly dimension Panos had taken them.

All in all, and with all due respect, the late great filmmaker, George P. Cosmatos, would be proud of his son Panos for having made a really good movie. For these reasons and more, CrypticRock gives Mandy 5 out of 5 stars.

RLJE Films

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