Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy, Olwn Fouere, Richard Brake, Bill Duke, Line Pillet, Clement Baronnet, Alexis Julemont, Stephan Fraser, and enough depravity to make a Cenobite blush.
More details here.
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Red (Cage) and Mandy (Riseborough) are a couple deeply in love who dwell peacefully together in a cabin in the woods.
He's a hardworking lumberjack whose only solace after long laborious days is coming home to her. She's an exquisite artist who also works as a clerk in a co-op grocery store where she reads dark fantasy paperbacks to pass the time. You get the feeling that both have been through some shit as Red's haunted, exhausted look and Mandy's physical scars hint at tragic pasts.
A few years ago, I watched the documentary Murder Mountain on Netflix, a series that chronicled the history of violence, crime, and corruption in a remote location of Humboldt County in Northern California. The show focused on one specific murder shrouded in the imposing weirdness that permeates the area and reminded me of just how bonkers a reputation this section of the golden state has long held and earned. In fact, a close friend of mine had a run-in with an infamous pair of Northern Californians during a trek in the area in the 1970s and can confirm that life there, even if you're just going for a walk, can be harrowing. From open drug cultivation, gang wars, serial killers, cults, and even goddamn Bigfoot, who was a main suspect in the series, this place is truly the last frontier of the United States. This lawless land is better known as the Emerald Triangle due to being the largest marijuana producing region in the country that drew fringe characters, organized crime, deadly biker gangs, mystic new agers, sun-ravaged hippies, and the occasional murder spree or two. If America has its own equivalent of Mordor, you can find it here.
Mandy is a hate-fueled phantasmal head trip of a revenge flick firmly set in the midst of the Emerald Triangle, which after witnessing the bloody insanity portrayed in this movie, could have been renamed the Crimson Triangle. Panos Cosmatos, son of George P., maker of Rambo: First Blood Part II, rolls out a similar rampage of ferocity for a major Hollywood star as his father's, only this time the proceedings are not marked by Reagan-era anti-foreigner bloodlust but an acidic medieval journey into senseless victimization, pseudo-spiritualism, and the horrid void created by loss. Cage is remarkably restrained as the anguished Red and Riseborough is both hypnotically intense and relatable as the titular Mandy. Roache doles out hefty vibes of Richard Lynch despicableness as the sniveling jerk-off Jeremiah and his slimy crony Brother Swan played by Dennehy reaches new levels of creepdom. And the rest of the cast from Fouere's Mother Marlene to the fifth grader band names Fuck Pig and Dog the Dog as the Black Skulls contribute unforgettably to Red's cathartic carnage. Rife with prog rock, heavy metal, and literary horror references and borderline Lovecraftian aesthetics, Cosmatos' tale is a county fair black light poster come to life, and much like the memory of a lost loved one, it will linger if you allow it.
The reviews I've seen for this film appear wildly divided, with some calling it gruesomely transcendent to sophomorically pretentious. But from its uber-saturated coloring scheme to its undeniable admiration for the arcane, Mandy is an intense viewing experience and could pose a challenge for those seeking kooky hijinks and wacky chuckles and not chainsaw impalements in their Halloween night movie marathon.
As of 10/13/23, Mandy is streaming on Shudder.