Film Review: Mandy

Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy is quite the trip. At its best moments, the film is dazzling.

Red and Mandy live an idyllic existence in their secluded home in the forest. When a nefarious group crosses them, the couple are plunged into a nightmare… 

Director and co-writer Panos Cosmatos has crafted a revenge thriller with its own unique flair. The premise is fairly simple, but there are plenty of aspects that make the film memorable. The narrative is broken into chapters of varying length. Mandy starts with a laconic pace, setting the scene, ambience and the main characters. The pace increases after first third, as director asks viewers to surrender to the mania. 

The art direction is most striking. The use of colour and lighting give the film a distinctive look, and the cinematography offers some great framing. Allegory is important in the film, and this is exhibited throughout. The opening titles immediately set the tone, and hints towards the era. The film is very much in the mode of an 80s B movie, revelling in this style. The advert featured perfectly exemplifies the demented nature of the film. Sound in Mandy is equally striking, with Jóhann Jóhannson’s score enveloping viewers into a strange and unsettling world. 

Like Brian Taylor’s Mom and Dad earlier this year, director utilises Cage most effectively. Patience is the name of the game, and other characters take centre stage to begin with. Viewers have to wait for Nicolas Cage to go full throttle, and when he does, it is glorious. There isn’t really another actor with the same energy as him, and it is really something to watch. Andrea Riseborough is as good as ever. Linus Roache plays the part of Jeremiah well. 

Despite the simplicity of the plot, Mandy is a striking and memorable film. It is quite the ride.

Mandy is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2018.

Film Review: Mom and Dad

Brian Taylor’s Mom and Dad is an amusing thriller that acts as a showcase for Nicolas Cage to go ‘full Cage’. A good premise and some outlandish scenes make for an entertaining movie.

Teenager Carly and her younger brother Josh are used to their normal, suburban existence. When a mass hysteria hits their town, the siblings must protect themselves from the two people they thought they could trust…

The premise of writer-director Brian Taylor’s film is a good one. It is a high-concept idea that imagines one of the worst things that could happen. Mom and Dad does not bother with a reasoned explanation for the hysteria. It is a good thing that Taylor eschews this potential rabbit hole; concentrating on a smaller group of people rather than the wide-scale issue is more rewarding. In providing exposition during the film, the director uses these segments as an opportunity to skewer the excesses of the 24-hour news cycle.

The story begins in a linear format, before interspersing several flashback scenes. The pacing is good, although some of the flashbacks interrupt momentum slightly. Mom and Dad concentrates on the suburban American family. As such, it explores the tension between parents and adolescent children, as well as ageing in suburbia. Both parents have to deal with these issues; Talor relates these to the outward rage that parents exhibit when they are effected.

The joy of the film is to see Nicolas Cage unleashed. Director teases viewers with this, restraining the actor until the right moment. Selma Blair is a good accompaniment to Cage’s mania; she is believable as the doting mother as well as the murderous one. The violence towards Damon as cartoonish quality which must be intentional. Anne Winters gives a decent performance.

The satire meets thriller style makes for some good laughs. Brian Taylor provides an entertaining 85 minutes with Mom and Dad.