Well, you came, and you gave without taking
Mandy (2018): 6 out of 10: Mandy presents a mixed bag of emotions, offering moments of captivating visuals and intense scenes, while others feel slow and overly artsy. The first half hour of the movie is a test of patience, with prolonged pauses and minimal action. It’s a strange combination of the overly arty and trippy atmosphere of Aronofsky’s Mother! mixed with the mind numbing mundanity of Disobedience.
If you can endure the slow setup, Mandy offers some truly memorable and unique elements. The motorcycle gang, resembling the Cenobites from Hellraiser, brings a thrilling and surreal twist to the story. The use of Heavy Metal-style animation and the eerie synthesizer score mixed with rock riffs adds a layer of gritty atmosphere to the film.
The movie shines when it leans into its more bizarre and over-the-top elements, like sleeping bag kills, Bill Duke cameos, and chainsaw fights. The chaotic, messy setting of the biker gang’s lair feels surprisingly realistic, even if other aspects of the film stretch believability. Also bonus points for using caltrops the correct way.
The Bad: As the story picks up, we see Cage’s character seeking revenge against the cult that wronged him, though their motivations and actions can feel inconsistent. For example, they leave the protagonist alive, which seems like an odd choice for a cult committing heinous crimes. (Actually, the biker gang does this exact same thing as well.) This would be less of an issue if there was any motivation for either group to leave Cage alive. But there simply isn’t.
Mandy also seems to get the revenge order wrong with Cage taking on the Hellraiser biker gang first before going after the considerably softer target of the religious cult. Would have been better to mix the two.
The Ugly: Even when the action starts, the pacing remains a significant issue, and some of the stylistic choices might not sit well with everyone. Scenes with weird lighting and excessive focus on mundane actions, such as a character raising and lowering a window in a van, can be frustrating to watch. This is a movie that saunters rather than runs to the next scene.
In Conclusion: In the end, Mandy offers a visually striking, unique experience that may appeal to those who appreciate art-house films and gritty revenge stories. However, its slow pacing and uneven narrative may make it a difficult movie to sit through more than once. Mandy is a film that has its moments of greatness, but the journey to get there can be a test of endurance.