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Underrated: Mandy 

When? 2018

What's it rated? R

Where's it available? Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play

click to enlarge BLOOD EVERYWHERE Nicolas Cage stars in Mandy (2018), a color-filled, '80s-inspired sci-fi thriller, that's a must-see for anyone who's bored of the usual. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SPECTREVISION
  • Photo Courtesy Of Spectrevision
  • BLOOD EVERYWHERE Nicolas Cage stars in Mandy (2018), a color-filled, '80s-inspired sci-fi thriller, that's a must-see for anyone who's bored of the usual.

It's not easy to describe Mandy, probably because it's so many things all wrapped into one. I can say that, as with most movies that tout Nicolas Cage as a leading actor, it's both visually and thematically ... perplexing. But this time, that's a good thing.

On one hand, Mandy is a contemporary thriller, pushing the boundaries of visual storytelling and cinematography through color-saturated scenes, captivating settings, and gore galore, all supporting a not at all uncommon getting-revenge-for-the-murder-of-my-girlfriend plot. On the other hand, it's an '80s-inspired sci-fi flick, complete with a monster-filled forest, experimental synthetic drugs, a crazy scientist, and (intentionally) grainy film quality.

It's like an acid trip through hell in the '80s, but with Cage as your spirit guide. And while saying that aloud may not sound awesome, Mandy really is.

I, like many people, don't really think of Cage as one of the most serious actors of our time, largely thanks to National Treasure (2004)—yikes—and Ghost Rider (2007)—bigger yikes. So when my boyfriend said he "really" wanted to "watch the new Nick Cage movie," I was shocked and genuinely confused.

Those feelings lasted throughout the movie.

The film centers on lumberjack Red Miller (Cage), who lives in a remote forest with his girlfriend, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough), sometime in the '80s. There, in a very cool house that appears to be made of nothing but windows, the couple spends their time reading, drawing, and having lengthy, David Lynchian conversations about space and childhood, all through a prism of ever-changing colors.

The color use is difficult to describe, but one review I read said watching Mandy was like watching a lava lamp for two hours, and yeah, I can see that.

While walking down a dirt road one afternoon, Mandy passes a camper carrying members of a small cult, who follow leader Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache). Jeremiah sees Mandy, and—despite a total lack of eyebrows, pitch black stringy hair, and a scar running down her left cheek, all of which make Mandy fairly spooky looking—he instantly wants her.

"I feel naked without her," he says.

Cult leader gets what cult leader wants. Jeremiah's followers immediately call for motorcycle-riding monsters (or are they?) to kidnap Mandy and Red, and in return they sacrifice one of their own members and what appears to be a clay smoothie (we later find out it's some of the most intense LSD on the planet) to the monsters.

The kidnapping doesn't go well for anyone involved, and Mandy ends up dead. Red, traumatized and alone, goes on an insane, vengeance-seeking killing spree that includes a chainsaw fight, very large guns, Cage screaming alone in a bathroom for maybe an entire minute, and blood everywhere.

Although it wasn't a big box office staple, it's been highly acclaimed as a win for Cage and for director Panos Cosmatos, who somehow makes watching a lava lamp for two hours a visceral and wonderful and horrible experience, all at the same time. Δ

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