For more Moviebob, check out his reviews of Assassination Nation and The Predator. And if you’re curious about where Nic Cage’s axe might end up, look at the craziest movie props people actually own. Stay on target Is Mandy good?Yes.What’s it about?Nicolas Cage is a lumberjack living in the wilderness with his wife Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) when they are terrorized by a drug-fueled religious cult led by a maniacal failed folk-singer (Linus Roche). Cage, implied to have been some sort of soldier, grabs a crossbow and battle axe to take his revenge.Sounds like fun!Yeah, it’s being sold as sort of a “just for fun” Midnight Movie experience that you’re meant to gawk at the absurdity of it all and cheer when the famously mercurial Cage says or does something “crazy.” Just ride the high like some kind of tossed-off Sharknado experience. However, it’s tonally closer to a stark, melancholy mood piece than heavy-metal horror show.How so?Don’t get me wrong, you do get terrifying body-mod biker gangs, crossbow killings, drug-trips, villain monologues, battle-axe blacksmithing, tiger-uncaging and chainsaw-fencing. And nearly all of it is rendered in either through the neon haze of a blacklight poster or the high-contrast primary hues of an airbrushed van. But director Panos Cosmatos aims for an emotional tone that’s more about pain and darkness.Cage gets his moments of fury and anger, but for the most part he’s playing a very human, very tired, and not-at-all young man. He’s someone who’s lived a difficult and mostly unhappy life, does a hard physical job for a living, and had only just thought he’d managed to carve out a measure of actual happiness in the world. Only to lose it.So it’s not played as a joke?No, it’s not doing the mock-exploitation thing. Audiences who’ve seen Cosmatos previous film, Beyond The Black Rainbow, will be familiar with the aesthetic: Long slow takes, long slow scenes, long slow builds (the title card doesn’t appear until an hour and 15 minutes in), eerie synth-rock scores, and tight medium-shot compositions. This all drives home the feel of being packed into characters’ heads, helped out by the cheeky conceit of the camera only ever pulling back out for “fantasy” shots that ground us suddenly in animated sequences or pulp-fantasy matte paintings.So it’s… sad?It’s less “sad” than it’s about sad people. Despite how stylized everything is, there are only a few very subtle allusions to the notion that anything authentically “supernatural” is at play. For all the dream sequences and blissed-out visions, everyone is thoroughly (and in most cases, pathetically) human. They’re also miserable and desperate to escape into a mind-altering headspace.Like with Beyond The Black Rainbow, it seems that Cosmatos has something of a bone to pick with back-half history of the New Age pop-psychedelic movement, even if he isn’t making “message movies. For Roche, it’s the ego-trip of lording over his followers. For his, followers it’s religious fervor (and the actual drugs). And for Cage, it progresses from booze, to whatever healing effect Mandy’s presence had (which Roche in turn wanted to possess), to thrill-killing for revenge.Interesting. And you recommend it?Absolutely. The violence will put off a lot of people, the fact that you’re not supposed to laugh at it will put off others, and the fact that’s much more of a “take it in and talk about it after” movie than the “Nicolas Cage live-action Metalocalypse episode” it’s being sold as will likely feel like a bait-and-switch. But I was really into it. I think Cosmatos is a fascinating new filmmaker, and I’m glad to see it finding its audience. MovieBob Reviews: ‘Shadow’MovieBob Reviews: ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.