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Mandy (free, also 7 p.m.)

  • Vilas Hall 821 University Avenue Madison, WI, 53706 United States (map)

Demons, cults, and Nicolas Cage combine in a whacked-out grindhouse spectacle. Info

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Nicolas Cage is not known for being a master of subtlety, which is why he is expertly cast in this new grindhouse feature from Panos Cosmatos. At once retro and ahead of its time, Mandy manages to capture the sleazy grime of late-'70s horror flicks such as Last House On The Left (1972) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), but also mixes in elements of psychedelia that blend together for a dizzying effect.

The plot of the film is straightforward. Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) is a lumberjack who has a beautiful and loving relationship with his wife, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). A random encounter with a drug-addled cult drives the cult's leader (Linus Roache) mad, and he decides to kidnap Mandy and Red. The cult has the ability to summon a pack of demons, who have also committed a series of unsolved murders in  the area. As Red witnesses one of the worst things a person can experience, he goes on a bloodthirsty rampage that allows the film to pay homage to its grindhouse forebears.

Mandy inevitably will be a new midnight movie classic and it is surprising that UW Cinematheque is not screening it as such. With its lush colors and chiaroscuro cinematography, it would be right at home with any Italian giallo film, only Mandy is even more sadistically violent. While the first half of the film is a bit of a slow burn that focuses more on Red and Mandy's idyllic romance, the antics of Cage's performance work perfectly within the second half, when he goes full-on Mad Max. —Edwanike Harbour