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Mandy Blu-ray Review

Mandy (2018) movie poster Mandy

Theatrical Release: September 13, 2018 / Running Time: 121 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Director: Panos Cosmatos / Writer: Panos Cosmatos (story & screenplay), Aaron Stewart-Ahn (screenplay)

Cast: Nicolas Cage (Red Miller), Andrea Riseborough (Mandy Bloom), Linus Roache (Jeremiah Sand), Ned Dennehy (Brother Swan), Olwen Fouéré (Mother Marlene), Richard Brake (The Chemist), Bill Duke (Caruthers)

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It's been about ten years since we could call Nicolas Cage a movie star and mean it, and yet he continues to star in movies. Most of them play in just a handful of theaters and receive overwhelmingly negative reviews. But not Mandy. It only fulfilled the limited release part, opening in 75 theaters mid-September and recently crossing the $1 million mark domestically. Sure, in the mid-'90s, Cage enjoyed $20+ million opening weekends on three consecutive movies. The first Ghost Rider and second National Treasure doubled that in 2007. But Mandy is his first vehicle to eclipse seven figures since 2014's Left Behind and it did so while earning Cage some of the best reviews of his career, boasting a staggering 95% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Cage is at most half of the headline here. The lion's share of the credit for Mandy must go to Italian-Canadian writer-director Panos Cosmatos, who picks up his first credits since his 2010 debut Beyond the Black Rainbow.

Fueled by alcohol, pain, and rage, Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) lets out a big bathroom scream in "Mandy."

Mandy is set in "1983 A.D." and Cosmatos does not take that lightly. This looks, sounds, and feels like a horror movie from that year. Cage and Andrea Riseborough play Red Miller and Mandy Bloom,
a couple living in The Shadow Mountains, which appears to be a quiet part of the Pacific Northwest. He is a lumberjack. She is an artist and small store sales clerk. They're close, happy, and seemingly content to spend time together in their own little world.

But some major forces are about to separate them. While walking outside one night, Mandy happens to catch the eye of the passenger in a vehicle. Everyone in the vehicle appears to be bad news, but the captivated Jeremiah (Linus Roache) is the ringleader of some kind of dark cult. He sends out his trusted associate Brother Swan (Ned Dennehy) to go summon some sinister dark forces that live in the forest and soon, Red and Mandy are awoken to great menace. They're tied up, separated, and subjected to different fates.

The second half of the film, we stay with Red, who very narrowly escapes with his life, bloodied and tormented. He hits up an old friend for some weapons and begins plotting his revenge, which is the main thrust of the narrative and comprises around the full second hour of this two-hour trip.

Besides embracing the early '80s setting with authentic dialogue, costuming, vibes, and a striking period score by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, Cosmatos has the good sense to let Cage go wild. You probably think you've seen Nic Cage unhinged in films like Drive Angry, The Wicker Man, and Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans. But here, he makes those endeavors look like child's play, giving us the dark hero this film needs. Though it allegedly peaked in 250 theaters (a number that doesn't check out in the box office records), Mandy never received a rating from the MPAA and it's tough to imagine it getting an R for its unending stream of brutal, bloody violence and sustained hellish atmosphere.

Without having to secure an R rating, a filmmaker could do just about anything and Cosmatos, who shares screenplay credit with the lightly seasoned Aaron Stewart-Ahn (whose few past credits include directing a 2008 Death Cab for Cutie music video and documenting behind the scenes on Be Kind Rewind), does. Chainsaw fight? Check. Blood splattered all over the face of Cage to laughter? Check. Some of the best fodder for Nic Cage YouTube montages in years? Check.

This is the most rampant Cage has been able to run since Vampire's Kiss thirty years ago. The hilarity offered within that makes it hard to decide if it's the best or worst movie Cage has ever made. Mandy raises similar questions. There is clearly a lot of method to Cosmatos' madness and much to admire technically about this fever pitch of a flick. The cinematography delights, the music entrances, and you can't hate the film even when it's going to the darkest, weirdest places, like Jeremiah exposing himself as he plays for Mandy a record of a Carpenters-esque song he made about himself.

Androgynous cult leader Jeremiah (Linus Roache) shows off the album he made to the captive Mandy.

For me, story and characters are usually the two areas where movies succeed or fail. Mandy doesn't flourish on either of those fronts and yet it's so bold and weird and committed to its unique style that you can never write it off. Its lunacy is certainly a lot easier to savor than much of Cage's recent, largely direct-to-video work.
His Oscar win for Leaving Las Vegas (1995) and nomination for Adaptation. (2002) feel like distant memories. But even when his new movies have known they're off the wall, like for example Paul Schrader's Dog Eat Dog, they haven't translated that into viewer enjoyment. Mandy sort of does.

The near-unananimous critical approval certainly reflects something obvious that too few people investing in critic scores realize: that film critics love that what is different. This is different: a horror thriller nothing like the kind that enjoy theater counts in the thousands. I guess the closest thing we've seen to this in wide release horror this year was Hereditary, an offbeat A24 indie treated like mainstream cinema that critics gushed over and general audiences hated. Count me among those who failed to see the allure in that. Mandy is not something I'd recommend to anyone not versed in and enamored with '80s horror and even they might need some disclaimers over just how out there it gets.

Theater-to-video windows keep shortening and you can't fault distributor RLJ Entertainment (who, if Box Office Mojo is to be believed, has never before handled a theatrical release) for being speedy, the fringe critical acclaim of the film still fresh in mind as it reached Blu-ray and DVD just in time for Halloween.

Mandy Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Suggested Retail Price: $29.97
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as DVD ($29.96 SRP) and on Instant Video


Though it resembles an '80s movie, Mandy looks like the best possible version of an '80s movie with its crisp, detailed imagery and potent 5.1 DTS-HD master audio. It's rare to encounter a movie this ambitious and unusual visually, and RLJ's presentation leaves nothing to be desired in high definition, enduring extreme red and pink hues with nary a complication.

"Behind the Scenes" lives up to its name with this black and white shot of pensive writer-director Panos Cosmatos. Red (Nicolas Cage) has a not so friendly gas station exchange in this deleted scene.


Mandy is joined by two types of bonus features here, both presented in HD.

First up, the 22-minute "Behind the Scenes" applies mostly audio remarks from Linus Roache, writer-director Panos Cosmatos, and producers Daniel Noah, Josh C. Waller, and Elijah Wood over concept art, production photography, script excerpts, marketing artwork, rehearsal footage, outtakes, and behind-the-scenes stills. Though its lack of input from Cage and Riseborough is felt, it gives insight into this unusual production in a non-standard way.

A reel of Deleted & Extended Scenes (13:58) includes an extended look at that Cheddar Goblin commercial, a scene in which someone who knows Red insults him and his girl, and an elongated version of Red's trailer chat with his weapons-supplying friend.

The disc opens with trailers for Brawl in Cell Block 99 and Dog Eat Dog. Neither is accessible by menu and no sadly no Mandy trailers are included.

The predominantly hazy red and pink menu plays imagery and score from the film.

The slipcovered keepcase holds no inserts but it does supply alternate cover art on the reverse side whose rear remains the same but whose front adapts the more artistic and less retail-friendly poster design.

A bloody Red (Nicolas Cage) flashes a big crazy smile while driving away near the end of "Mandy."


Panos Cosmatos' disturbing, atmospheric, and insane trip is not your typical 2010s Nic Cage limited release vehicle. This balls-to-the-wall throwback has inspired a passionate reaction from critics and moviegoers tired of horror's presently fashionable trends. While I'm still trying to sort out my feelings to this, I can assure you it's certainly not a boring or familiar ride and that those with an appetite for dark, violent thrillers and Nic Cage at his most unhinged probably owe it to themselves to see this.

RLJ's Blu-ray is basic but serviceable, the alternate cover art being a nice complement to a fine feature presentation.

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Related Reviews:
Nicolas Cage: Drive AngryDog Eat DogInconceivableThe Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New OrleansArmy of OnePay the Ghost
Andrea Riseborough: Shadow DancerBirdmanBattle of the SexesOblivion
Hereditary • It FollowsBlue RuinGreen RoomMad Max: Fury RoadOnly God ForgivesDriveThe BelieversSuspiria (2018)

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Reviewed November 6, 2018.

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