In Mandy, the director Pamos Cosmatos takes Nicolas Cage’s pissed off and grieving husband through a lot of art before he gets to the revenge. All the high saturated greens, blacks and over abundant reds are suppose to be a visual extension of Cage’s descent down and through hell, but they really exist to oomph the blood palette factor.
Cage’s lumberjack Red Miller does get bloody bloody red, eventually screaming, demonic, pulsating brimstone to complete the hellish metaphor, and serve as a replacement of sort, for the two demons Cage knocks off via crossbow and chainsaw. Take away his art, (the titular Mandy was an artist/wife who fed Red’s existence with cartoon drawings heavily influenced by Ralph Bakshi’s Heavy Metal designs) and there is nothing left but hell and bloody bloody revenge Cosmatos seems to be implying, especially when it is replaced by a religion that professes God but is fully Satanic. The over artistry then exists to reflect this hell back to Cage, a torment forever reminding him of what was taken away, or it could be just an arty diversion.
Mandy is constantly overthinking its design to the detriment of its revenge, almost. In the end, the art and revenge quotient evens out to a satisfying level for genre fans. Revenge may be art, but art should never get in the way of good cinematic revenge.
Mandy is just another psychedelic trip (and there are many in Mandy) towards Nicolas Cage’s ultimate artistic desire to be a full blown Warner Bros Loony Toon. Cage gets his revenge, but the audience gets its just rewards.
All photos courtesy of RLJE films.