TV & Movies

31 Days of Streaming Horror: 'Mandy' is an Acid Trip Through Hell – and Beyond

Welcome to 31 Days of Streaming Horror. Every day this October, we’ll be highlighting a different streaming horror movie to help you get into the Halloween spirit. Today’s entry: Mandy (2018).

Mandy
Now Streaming on Shudder

Sub-Genre: Psychedelic freak-out horror

Best Setting to Watch It In: With the Cheddar Goblin

How Scary Is It?: See for yourself

Awash in darkness and fire, violence and beauty, life and death, Mandy is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Panos Cosmatos‘ acid trip nightmare stars Nicolas Cage as a man seeking vengeance against the vicious cult that murdered the love of his life, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). This concept seems ripe for the sort of over-the-top goofball stuff Cage has been doing for the last decade – Nic Cage vs. a cult! But Mandy isn’t cheesy, or corny, or something to watch ironically. It’s a brutal psychedelic journey to the dark side, and beyond.

Cage has a few of his trademark over-the-top moments, but for most of the film, he gives a surprisingly subdued performance. His character is a broken man, which means he doesn’t have the energy for some Nic Cage freak-outs. Instead, he turns in work that’s soulful and mournful. We feel his pain as he suffers the loss of Mandy, and then as he becomes consumed with violent rage and a thirst for revenge. That violent rage presents itself in several gruesome ways, and also leads to a showstopping chainsaw fight where Cage battles an enemy wielding a massive chainsaw.

Cage is great here, as is Andrea Riseborough in a limited role that nonetheless sears itself on your brain. She’s the driving force of everything here, and even when she exits the narrative, her presence is still felt. The third part of the equation is Linus Roache, playing the wicked, insufferable, insecure cult leader who is also a psychedelic folk musician – because of course he is.

Cosmatos is drawing on other films here – there are shades of HellraiserAltered StatesThe Serpent and the Rainbow, and more here. But even with these influences front and center, Mandy still feels utterly fresh and unique; the type of movie that you have to see to believe. And even when you see it you still might not believe it.

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