Director: Panos Cosmatos
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy Olwen Fouere, Richard Brake, Bill Duke. USA. 2h 1m
Cosmastos seems obsessed with 1983, where his previous movie was also set, is there a parallel here? Same year with possible answers to Professor Arboria’s mystic drug… but nothing is laid out in a straightforward way, he keeps the viewer guessing about what is real and what might just be fantasy, eventually your not sure what you believe in anymore, questions are raised especially about the drugs involved and at times this film really pushes the envelope.
As with his debut, Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010) it’s incredibly hard to really know where to begin with appreciating and critiquing Cosmatos new gore blaster, Mandy. Trying to capture the tone or detail the narrative is almost pointless in a review as it’s much more than that, the movie has to be fully experienced, you can’t passively watch the film, it demands you give yourself over to it, getting lost in it’s stylish substance no matter how visceral the display.
The most simplest explanation is that this is a revenge film, albeit one with heavy inspiration from 80’s metal sprung to life, but with a deep emotion that saturates every frame, but this slow burning journey with vivid trippy landscapes and mystical effects soon turns from a soulful guitar solo into pure thrash as the second hour is blood soaked dive into depravity involving motorbikes, drugs, insane axe’s and did I mention chainsaws?
I instantly fell in love with Beyond the Black Rainbow, the film became a object of obsession for me, so much to the point that I have a pretty lavish tattoo dedicated to the experience, if Beyond was Cosmatos Electronic Sci Fi project then this is surely his Heavy Metal Gore Horror project.
A laid back and fairly peaceful lumberjack Red Miller (Cage), is besotted with his beloved, a raven haired, dark eyed beauty Mandy (Riseborough), her beauty stole his heart in an instant at a rock gig and now they spend their days carving out a charmed life in the wilderness, a matched love of metal and science fiction also connect the couple.
One fateful day, Mandy is spotted by Jeremiah Sand (Roache), a domineering cult leader who becomes obsessed by the girl and sends his loyal cult members to capture her, using an esoteric horn they call forth a demonic biker gang to capture her so Sand can make her ‘his own’ the creature like gang of psycho’s brutal beat and torture Red in the process and without revealing too much, Red is witness to something no one should ever see happen to the love of their life, and after a drink and cry in the bathroom, the second half of the movie kicks off , first with Red, getting his bareing straight, arming himself up with weapons and some helpful insights from the wise and cool Bill Duke and riding out into the night to seek his bloody revenge.
He meets some very impressive characters along the way most notable, The Chemist (Break) a bizarre psychic character whose pet Lizzie, a beautiful tiger are both aware that some bad shit is going down. And it’s about to go the fuck down.
There are some stand out scenes mostly in the second half, for the horror fans, when things really start to get bloody, it’s to the extreme, in a way that only Cosmatos could really craft. For me everything is perfect but did I mention Chainsaws? There is an epic chainsaw battle where they are wielded like swords it’s the perfect blend of old and new.
I’ve always had a lot of faith in Cosmatos, he manages to really boil down an subject to the bare bones and builds it up in its purest essence. There are dazzling title cards that rise out of the movie, announcing characters and chapters, as if the film is a adaptation of a metal album, the crazed motorbike gang and nightmarish characters such as Jeremiah are often conjured up in these rugged landscapes.
The extreme colour palettes only amplify the trippe surreal concept of man as one with nature. It’s an a fascinating exercise in really build on whatever the scene needs to make it breath with life, more colour on, a trippy background, lets do it. While it’s very experimental it also relies on some classic forms of horror and gore, but it remains one of the more untraditional horrors you’ll see this year, but at its core this is a mighty tale of evil and vengeance.
Needles to say I’ve pre ordered the DVD, brought the OST and working out where to put my second Cosmatos tattoo.
R- Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010), Heavy Metal (1981), Hell Ride (2008),
5s- Nicholas Cage, Richard Brake,