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We Hate Hyperbole, But Mandy Is The Best Horror Film You’ll See This Year

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Holy hell. Walking out of director Panos Cosmatos’ new Nicolas Cage-starring horror flick feels like coming up for air. The relentlessness of everything that’s happening on screen is at the same time overwhelming and awe-inspiring. Also: blood-drenched and crazy-violent.

Mandy looks like a film made by a director who was given carte blanche to do exactly what they wanted, to include every insane idea in their (possibly narcotics-enhanced) brain and make it a reality on screen. It’s beautiful and surreal and terrifying and hilarious (Nic Cage may or may not have been your first clue there) all at once.

Mandy starts off serene: Red (Cage) and his sci-fi-loving, death metal dream woman, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) live a quiet life among the trees in the Pacific Northwest. It’s 1983 and the art direction is so perfect you’d think the cast and crew travelled back through time to film each scene. The couple spends their evenings discussing casual subjects like the cosmos and childhood trauma. During the day, he’s a logger and she’s an avid reader.

The discernable but eerie calm they exist in is shattered when Riseborough’s character has the misfortune of catching the eye of the local cult leader. Messed up on some kind of mountain meth, he and his followers kidnap her and demand that she join them—like Margaret Atwood says, men are afraid that women will laugh at them; women are afraid that men will kill them. Both things happen. The rest of the film is a gorey, acid trippy ode to the concept of revenge, as Red steels himself (like, literally—there’s a metallurgy scene) to hunt down the cult and even the score.

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Cosmatos considers his film a piece of naive or outsider art, describing Mandy as “a muscle memory evocation of my past and the art, music, and movies I loved growing up.” We consider it a bloody, fiery, fever dream masterpiece as stylish as Peter Strickland’s The Duke of Burgundy, as violent as any Tarantino film, and as weird as something made by Terrence Malick if Terrence Malick made films with comprehensible narratives. Mandy is lit and scored like a Nicolas Winding Refn movie and chapters are interspersed with animated sequences reminiscent of the 1973 Japanese film Belladonna of Sadness. Have we mentioned that it’s awesome?

Mandy also stars Linus Roache, Bill Duke, and Richard Brake (Game of Thrones’ Night King!). The film gets freaky in theatres starting today. Check out the psychedelic trip of a trailer below.