Mandy (2018) film review - psychotic psychedelia

Mandy didn't float my boat at all. It's certainly plenty psychedelic and has an 80s feel as a result, but it's too slasher-like for my tastes and is about 30 minutes too long.


‘Mandy’ is billed as a psychedelic horror movie that stars Nicholas Cage as a man whose wife is killed by a bunch of “Jesus freaks” (as Cage calls them) and Andrea Riseborough as his wife, the eponymous Mandy.

The “Jesus freaks” are a strange bunch indeed and they don’t work alone. They recruit the services of a bizarre set of ‘monsters’ who were once a biker gang but are now horrific creatures, one with a sword for a penis and another that puts me in mind of Clive Barker’s ‘Pin Man’.

It sounds like a recipe for disaster and so, by and large, it was. That’s just my opinion though. It was apparently quite well received by others and elicited such comments as:

"Mandy's gonzo violence is fueled by a gripping performance by Nicolas Cage—and anchored with palpable emotion conveyed between his volcanic outbursts." (Rotten Tomatoes, who gave it an astonishing 92%)

For all of the endless feral performances that Cage has given, in movies good, bad and forgettable, Cosmatos’ style-driven, ‘80s-tastic passion for weird worlds and characters takes full advantage of Cage’s greatness, and then some." (US film review site

And it garnered a scarcely believable 81 out of 100 on Metacritic who indicated it had:

"universal acclaim"

If you haven’t guessed by now, I tend to disagree with these assessments.

It is indeed a ‘psychedelic’ movie and it cuts in animations, uses mood lighting and portrays an over all aura that enhances the psychedelic feel. But I think it tries too hard. It didn’t grip me and Cage’s rampage in the second half just became too frantic and went on too long. I was glad when it was all over.

It runs for 121 minutes and I think 30 minutes could be trimmed off that without losing anything.

I tend to think horror is generally better when it involves psychological tension where nothing much happens, where a subtle wrongness is implied and a film builds up to those ‘jump’ or ‘shock’ moments. ‘Mandy’ fails to do that in the first half and it’s just too full on, slasher-like in the second half.

It’s not a complete loss and, as the RogerEgbert site says above, if you’re hankering for an “80s-tastic” feel it might just float your boat, and there are some scenes that are spooky and worthy of praise. I can’t see where all the gushing praise comes from though.

For a film to rate above average (above 2.5 stars) with me I must at least be open to the idea of watching it again even if I don’t seek out a repeat as a matter or urgency. I certainly don’t want to watch ‘Mandy’ again, so it’s only 2 stars from me.