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Review: Mandy – “A nightmare vision of lost love”

The setting for a perfect movie show is everything, isn’t it? I regularly now see people watching a projection of ‘Jaws’, whilst floating on a lilo, in a pool.
Maybe a screening of ‘The Greatest Showman’ in a circus. ‘Die Hard’ outside the actual Nakatomi Plaza? Brilliant.

Sure to add to the atmosphere. Anything to make it that little bit more immersive. Well, how about another to add to that growing collection of trends….

….watching ‘Mandy’ (out now on USiTunes), on your drive way – because you’re locked out of your house?

Bear with me, I’m not selling it. But it’s dark outside. 4AM dark. There’s no one around, and the WiFi is good.

The slightest noise outside and I’m jarring – because the opening is arresting. A haunting score over ‘Twin Peaks’ trees.

The film immediately makes you feel unsettled. As the opening credits come on the 80’s nostalgia hits you. I’m an unapologetic 80’s kid. And anything that tries to harken back to that era will get me straight away. But ‘Mandy’ offers more than that.

Already there’s a style that I haven’t quite seen before. Skies that look otherworldly, then bam!, a title screen in silver glitter, telling us it’s 1983.

Is this Sir Ridley’s ‘Legend’? It could be. You feel like you’ve stumbled into something you should not be watching. Like when you used to creep downstairs and hope your Dad was watching something you shouldn’t be seeing. And you’d peep to get a glimpse of whatever you could see.

You have no idea on first watch if the 80’s is even relevant, but Nicolas Cage is looking very serious, and over a burning fire, in the middle of the woods, his wife stares at him.

Do you remember ‘Event Horizon’? It scared the hell out of me a kid (I need to revisit). Not because of the gore, but for the subtle moments. And the look Mandy (Andrea Riseborough), Cage’s wife gives can only be described as “dead”.

Director Panos Cosmatos is cranking the tension, and she keeps staring. She won’t stop. Looking right through you. Who will blink first?

The trailer had me uneasy before I even started, so I knew I was going to be in trouble with this. Something about it seemed “unsafe.” The film doesn’t disappoint.

I kept having images of cenobites and horrible Clive Barker “things” pop into my head. Like the best of horror. By the time we get a second title screen – chapters? – we’re bathed in a red hue, and I’m wishing I was at least inside my house. Not for the surround sound, though. The score has done nothing but make me feel uneasy the whole time – and by the time they summon something with a flute, I’m just about done.

Everyone has that Rob Zombie/‘Cobra’ cult look, and it feels grubby and unclean.

It won’t be for everyone – and it unashamedly doesn’t want to be. When Jeremiah gets invoked with a voice straight out of the Exorcist I debated pausing and watching once the sun had come up. But once you’ve started, I doubt very much you’d want to stop.

Look away? Sure. Several times. But like the very best bits of Lynch, Carpenter and hell, even Malik (?), the film has something deeper.

It claims to be “mind-altering”, and bold as it is, I’d say that was fair. I’m not sure there’s been anything like it. Not since the 80’s, anyway.

I expected a Mad Max revenge story, but got so much more. A nightmare vision of lost love.

Demanding of your attention. When things like ‘The Predator’ let you down, try something new. You never know. You might like it.

One thing is for sure. I’ll never look at Thomas Wayne (Linus Roache)  the same again. Christ. The mad bastard.

One final thing: Nic Cage. I often debate what a legacy is. In terms of songs, and acting, I genuinely believe one absolute classic – an all-timer – is enough.

Cage is inconsistent and made some drivel we all wish we hadn’t seen. But he’s brave. Maybe even a little unhinged, but there’s no one else who could’ve pulled this off. Absolute classics? He’s made several. ‘Mandy’ is right up there with it – and right up there with the best 2018 has offered. Wild.

Acid? Coke? Who needs it? “Kryptoniiiiiite!”

It would be remiss to not mention it’s Johan Johannsson’s last known score. And for as uneasy as it made me, Jesus, he leaves some legacy.

Mandy is currently available on US iTunes and opens in UK cinemas on 12th October 2018.

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