Mandy (2018)
September 14, 2018 8:05 PM - Subscribe

Pacific Northwest. 1983 AD. Outsiders Red Miller and Mandy Bloom lead a loving and peaceful existence. When their pine-scented haven is savagely destroyed by a cult led by the sadistic Jeremiah Sand, Red is catapulted into a phantasmagoric journey filled with bloody vengeance and laced with fire.
posted by Literaryhero (35 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Newsweek says: "Every shot is composed with a directorial conviction heavy with hermetic knowledge and occult power."

posted by el io at 9:20 PM on September 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

This isn't available on my side of the world (yet), and it was honestly not even on my radar, but the reviews are so...Effusive? I don't actually think that is right, but the reviews are certainly something, and I wanted to hear from some MeFites about it.
posted by Literaryhero at 1:30 AM on September 15, 2018

I went to the only cinema around here showing Mandy, which is like 25 miles away, this morning. I'm a huge fan of Cosmatos' first film, Beyond the Black Rainbow, so I was stoked for this. I was not disappointed.

The cinematography is unreal and heavily psychedelic. The use of color is especially striking, and the first part of the movie feels as if the film stock itself is drenched in Pacific Northwestern dampness. The music is killer, too- it's very metal, of the moody, expansive doom variety. (Hell, the whole movie's pretty metal.)

As in Beyond the Black Rainbow, we're presented with a version of 1983 even more nightmarish than the one we know, full of acid casualties, failed folk singer Jesus freaks, and weapons, objects, and locales befitting a D&D game. Red and Mandy's home, warm and yellow-lit, is, at least for a while, a mountain sanctuary in an increasingly freakish landscape that I imagine as part of the wider world outside of the Arboria Institute from BTBR.

Nicolas Cage is great as Red. I can't imagine anyone else looking quite so simultaneously enraged and bewildered and broken. Linus Roache's cult leader fits perfectly into the pantheon of villians who are charismatic human monsters with fragile egos and control issues. Andrea Riseborough's Mandy is otherworldly; I wish we'd gotten more of her. I can't quite put my finger on why I liked her performance so much.

Add in some Heavy Metal-esque animated sequences, nods to a variety of '70s and '80s horror movies, and a cameo by Bill Duke, and you've got one hell of a movie. I'll be thinking about it for a long time.
posted by heteronym at 6:02 PM on September 16, 2018 [8 favorites]

I have no idea what to say about it other than Nic Cage has reached his final form.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 11:13 PM on September 16, 2018 [8 favorites]

This was pure, glorious Cage.
posted by graventy at 1:44 PM on September 17, 2018

Okay, I'm in like sin. I was laughing at the poster last week and now am kicking myself after such effusive praise in the comments here. *skips all the way to the theater*
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:46 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hugely disappointed to discover that cheddar goblin was not an actual brand
posted by Berreggnog at 7:27 AM on September 18, 2018 [14 favorites]

I watched the trailer and sat there for a few seconds, slack-jawed, before turning to my husband and saying, “Welp, that’s either going to be the best movie ever made or the worst.”
posted by holborne at 6:50 AM on September 19, 2018

I hate to have a fan theory about things like this, but I think there is a credible, internally supported case that the second half of the film is a dying hallucination by Mandy, imagining her already-dead husband transforming into the hero of the sorts of occult fantasy novels she likes.

There is a moment when both are on the floor when we see Cage suddenly jerk as though stabbed. We see him stabbed again just before Mandy is burned, and the stab wound in one of his dreams, but otherwise it barely effects the events of the end of the film, despite the stab wound being profound. I think this could be seen as him being stabbed when she is kidnapped and her occasionally remembering the fact.

Nothing genuinely magical happens until after Mandy has the hallucinogens dropped into her eyes (even the weird bug; that comes after). The bikers are called by a weird flute and drink some potion, but that's the extent of it. In the meanwhile, as soon as Mandy is given the eye drops, things grow increasingly magical.

It's both a depressing thought and one that recenters Mandy to the narrative. The first half of the film is really hers -- Cage has very little dialogue and a lot of it is in response to hers. I'd like to think that the second half of the story is hers too, it's the story she would want told, and we see her in the car momentarily at the end, approving.
posted by maxsparber at 9:09 AM on September 20, 2018 [9 favorites]

Cage talking about some of his roles, he talks a bit about Mandy at the end. I found all of it entertaining but I just like Cage.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 10:35 AM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Cheddar Goblin ad directed by Casper Kelly of 'Too Many Cooks' fame
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:56 AM on September 21, 2018 [4 favorites]

Not only is this the best film I've seen this year, I'm now having difficulty remembering any other films I've seen this year
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:56 AM on September 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

Cage is great as always, but Linus Roache does some world class scenery chewing here too. Even in a movie where Cage downs 2/3 of a bottle of vodka while screaming and crying in a bathroom in his tighty-whiteys, Roache keeps up.

Also, halfway through the cheddar goblin commercial, I was starting to believe I'd seen it some Saturday morning in 1983 in a break during He-Man. Only the macaroni puking clinched it as a parody.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:52 AM on September 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Cheddar Goblin looked a lot like the Portuguese Gremlins from Community, which I hope was intentional. I loved Red's "You're a goblin."

I like maxsparber's interpretation of the second half of the film, but there may be additional layers of hallucination. The Black Skulls (those Cenobite-lookin' bikers) drink what I think is the bad LSD mentioned later by Carruthers, and which Red also drinks after he goes on his killing spree. Once he drinks it, the landscape becomes starker, more symbolic, but it's hard to say where Red's world begins and Mandy's ends-- especially when the last shot of the film is reminiscent of the cover art of Seeker of the Serpent's Eye, which ties it back to Mandy herself and thus lends weight to maxsparber's take.

Whatever it is, it's glorious.
posted by heteronym at 2:34 PM on September 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seeing Mandy, and hearing it, made me fucking sad that Johann Johannsson was replaced by Zimmer for the Blade Runner 2049 soundtrack. We would've gotten something a whole lot better than the Vangelis rehash.
posted by sapagan at 2:35 PM on September 21, 2018

I watched the film again a bit ago and when they are on the floor, Red is struck in the head and
knocked out rather than stabbed. (unless you mean prior to the knockout, and I missed it again?)

Not that it proves he is still alive, I still like that as one possible interpretation of the rest of the movie. I'm just enjoying trying to find details in every scene at this point.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 11:50 PM on September 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think the film has a number of interpretations... it could have lots of extra depths and significance, or just be a load of random stuff.

But I see it, in part, as a meditation on slasher movies - Crystal Lake - plus biker movies and cult leader/satan worship movies. We have group of cenobites/demons who turn out to be bikers on acid. A hero who is a slasher killer - a prophet fighting a false prophet... who drives off into a fantasy/acid trip sun/moon/planetrise. Of Jupiter and Saturn...? Their favourite planets - whose astrological meanings almost but not quite fit (... but then perhaps Red's fave is actually Mars?). Just chop down those trees and walk away, the world keeps spinning Cheddar Goblin ads and all.

Knock knock.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:37 AM on September 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I just saw this film last night and I loved it. There are a few things I want to mention here.

The first is that bathroom. It is just so gloriously 70s right down to the fuzzy yellow toilet cover. That set was amazing and it's just used for a single scene.

The next is that I didn't realize until watching this film that lighting a cigarette off the flaming skull of my enemy is definitely a life goal. That was spectacular.

As for the chainsaw duel, the only other film I know with a chainsaw duel is Motel Hell, which is just as weird and trippy as this film. Both of these films completely entertain me. Just loved it.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:01 AM on September 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Don't forget the chainsaw duel in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, a film that's also pretty fuckin' weird.
posted by heteronym at 8:17 AM on September 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Ah yes! I did forget that one! And I just rewatched that movie like a month ago.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:02 AM on September 23, 2018

My whimsical review/thoughts:
“Mulder, why are you tiptoeing around the obvious fact here? I mean, this is Skyland Mountain. We're right back here on Skyland Mountain.” — Dana Scully


Eternal fucking return. Damnation. Big bangs. The remnants of legends Arthurian, pagan, Lovecraftian… pages ripped from Metal Hurlant and that goddamned dungeonmaster guide shoved in a basement drawer. Drugged we mutate with galactic slime oozed and pulsating — strained noises of arthritic aspirating. Because the koala eats from the eucalyptus tree, and we dine here on blood and dirt. So forsaken by gods old, new, and elder: he howls and rages, she laughs, while they are consumed by their own cosmology. Where is this new proving ground of love, utterly fucked by goblins and bastards and four horsemen of eschatological fetishes. At gunpoint, Packard chooses your own adventure. Or we could be trapped in a bubble come forth from some hesher’s busted bong. Who knows what shit is in store for us when we sit in darkened rooms with sticky floors and light bouncing off the wall like some ersatz Plato cave. Turn it up to eleven, or four hundred twenty, or in reams and reams of blotter paper. Unimaginable horror waits for no one. Where do these bodies fly????

In short, this is vengeance for Jethro Tull winning the first Hard Rock Grammy over Metallica. Adjusted for inflation. With interest.
posted by theartandsound at 7:22 PM on September 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

I got to see this last night, and I think I have the opposite of maxsparber's interpretation.

Let's say that Red got dumped by Mandy because of his alcoholism (that he is denying to himself, hence refusing the beer in the helicopter), and invents this huge conspiracy about what happened to her. Think about it, a gasoline coated bag isn't going to turn human bone to dust (jet fuel can't melt steel beams!), and right after that scene Red finds the 44 tee shirt that Mandy had been wearing when she was abducted. Why would the cult take the shirt off (and it still looked pretty clean) before bagging her and burning her alive? Weird, right? Also, I have never tried, but I don't think it is possible for a normal person to pop a skull with their bare hands. I think the whole thing is an elaborate fantasy in Red's mind that he concocts rather than admitting his girlfriend left him over substance abuse issues. I mean did you see how nonchalantly he just scarfs down random drugs? This is clearly not his first go around.

In less conspiracy oriented thinking, did anyone else notice that the bottomless pit he kicked the first cenobite biker down continued up through the house? Funny.

Also, why does Red's house have so many windows? Freaked me out.
posted by Literaryhero at 1:34 AM on September 24, 2018

I liked the house made of windows although I admit looking at their bedroom I thought it would be cold in the winter. But hey more excuses to snuggle under the covers.

I suspect given the dreamy nature of the film that the window house there are different ways to interpret it. To me, initially, I thought the window house was so we could often get nature backgrounds for scenes that are inside.You could go from there to the idea that what seems like a boundary, in this case between outside and inside, isn't as clear here. This would fit into the whole "Is this real or not?" which even the characters don't seem to know or care about.
posted by miss-lapin at 6:57 AM on September 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can't help admiring a movie that references both Solaris and MacGruber.
posted by Iridic at 10:39 AM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

It also references The Quiet Earth in the final few shots.

I loved this film; it truly is what Panos envisioned, "a heavy metal album cover come to life as a revenge horror movie." A friend co-wrote two books about modern-day cults (like Heaven's Gate, which I edited for the print edition). He's listed in the "special thanks" credits and also friends with Panos, the director. Apparently he gave Panos some insights into "cult families" while consulting on Mandy's script.

I guess what I'm saying is, this film is art. And I'm able to see it through the lens of people I know who influenced its creation, which is super cool and surreal beyond what the movie's doing on its own.

My favorite thing about Mandy is that we're never shown the cult's key beliefs or motivations for anything they do, because ultimately, that doesn't matter. I think Panos was smart to avoid romanticizing any aspect of cult life or trying to explain why everything in the movie happened. It should NOT appear attractive, compelling or invite any interpretation deeper than "fucked up people do terrible things, but heroes can still get revenge."

And yet, it's really a timely story, isn't it? The idea that white men can just barely lift their heads, gesture vaguely and say, "I want that. Get it for me," and people unquestionably obey. That's a horror that probably feels just a little too real for some viewers.

The actors looked like regular, everyday people. Uncomfortable shots lingered on characters' faces just a little too long, a technique that Lynch uses to great effect in his work. The violence was over-the-top without devolving into torture porn. It was funny, like other great horror films often are.

I give it 13/10 stars!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 4:32 PM on September 25, 2018 [8 favorites]

Having seen this and his previous film, I feel like he seduces you with the highly stylish retro psychedelic cinematography and music and obvious repetition and mishmash of horror tropes (I mean, there were not only huge nods to Hellraiser but also Army of Darkness, and some of those nods were hilarious) . . . but the whole is so much more than the sum of its parts. This left me pretty shaken and I don't understand why. I was feeling like "I know what he's doing here and it's super fun" but then it just got under my skin. Beyond the Black Rainbow had a similar effect on me. It's potent stuff, whatever crazy pop culture spell he's concocting.
posted by treepour at 12:22 PM on October 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

If I had a buck for every time someone blinked in this movie, I’d have like 4 bucks. Probably 3 if you don’t count the lizard.

What a film. I was very much drawn in. The movie lingers with you and the imagery feels burned into my mind. Definitely annoyed I missed this is the cinema. Hoping it does the rounds again.

I was moved to literally applaud the film when the title card showed up over an hour in.

I also love that the main bad guy is just such a whiny epitome of privilege; his shitty music wasn’t appreciated so he invents a god to tell him that he is entitled by divine right to everything in the world and that no one else matters. And he gets everyone else to do it for him; he literally doesn’t do anything in the film aside from talk pontificate.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:18 PM on November 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

What this film was missing was a big bush of pubic hair. Shoulda put a merkin on Linus Roache.

One thing I will say: of all the afterimage effects I have ever seen trying to give the impression of a drug trip, the red/blue one when Mandy was dosed was the best ever.
posted by fleacircus at 9:54 PM on February 9, 2019

I watched this again tonight, and loved it just as much as I did the first time. I'm slightly disappointed that my initial hearing of Red's line as "you're a goblin" was mistaken, and he just says "Cheddar Goblin."

Regarding Red's drinking/drug problem, I noticed that after he declines the beer on the chopper leaving the logging camp, we see Mandy firing up a pipe, presumably while home alone drawing. I wonder if Red smokes pot too; I doubt it. The softer dreaminess (disturbing as it can be at times) of the earlier parts of the film seems more in line with a Mandy/marijuana view of the world, whereas the latter half's harshness and violence reflects Red's vodka/mountain-of-coke/LSD dishwater binge.

I saw that the official merch website for the film sells a "full rage" bundle that includes Red's shirt, socks, tighty whities, and an empty vodka bottle. I don't know what to make of that.
posted by heteronym at 8:20 PM on February 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Finally got around to watching it, and the scene that really sticks in my head was the blending of Jeremiah's face and Mandy's face in the scene just before she emasculates him with laughter. Just beautiful filmmaking.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:17 PM on April 22, 2019 [5 favorites]

The DVD has a few deleted and extended scenes, one of which clearly establishes that Red is an alcoholic. We learn this from the sheriff, who's a real piece of shit. He also sneeringly mentions that Mandy had a reputation for sleeping around.

It's a nicely-shot scene, but I can see why Cosmatos omitted it, and the same goes for the other deleted stuff (though I could watch a whole movie about Caruthers and the weird shit he knows).
posted by heteronym at 6:28 AM on June 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

Metafilter: it could have lots of extra depths and significance, or just be a load of random stuff.

Also, if its chainsaw duels you're after, don't forget Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers from 1988, which has perhaps the slowest, dullest and least convincing chainsaw fight ever filmed.

Sample dialogue:
HCH 1: "Say, what's with Samantha? she looks kind of distant."
HCH 2 (sounding very bored indeed): "Oh, she's at one with the Gods."
posted by Paul Slade at 4:05 AM on February 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think this movie is best read as a sequel to Raising Arizona, in which the loss of Dot to a cult finally causes HI McDunnough to release his inner Leonard Smalls.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:13 PM on November 17, 2021

Late to the party, but I’d like to note this reference: Bill Duke’s character is named Caruthers. Another bald, Black man who provides helpful exposition to a film’s protagonist? Dick Hallorann in The Shining. Played, of course, by Scatman Crothers!
posted by barrett caulk at 8:58 PM on October 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

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