Film & TV

“Mandy” Brings Audiences on a Hellish Psychedelic Journey

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Nicolas Cage’s (“National Treasure,” “Ghost Rider”) new film “Mandy” is an intense, high decibel thriller adrenaline junkies and 1980s horror lovers won’t want to miss. 

Legion M CEO Paul Scanlan gave The Phoenix tickets to a screening of “Mandy” and discussed what made the film stand out. Legion M is an entertainment company that creates films, TV and other entertainment media; it was founded in March 2016. One of its well known projects is the film “Colossal” starring Anne Hathaway.

 It started as a crowdfunding business and raised $1.2 million in their first year, according to Legion M’s annual report. Legion M is now worth $4 million. Legion M has over 7,000 investors and a community of more 30,000, according to their website and Scanlan. 

Scanlan said the company’s goal is to get one million fans involved and build a community of people passionate about film. Legion M hopes to achieve this by hosting events and inviting members on outings to Sundance Film Festival and to host events on college campuses for students. 

Legion M helped fund the soudtrack of “Mandy” and is the first fan-owned entertainment company, according to Scanlan. Anyone interested in participating in Legion M’s events can join for free and will be told about exclusive information. Legion M held more than 40 community meetups for the opening of “Colossal,” according to Legion M’s annual report. 

“Mandy’s” intense soundtrack comes from visionary composer Johan Johansson who died  Feb. 9. The soundtrack of “Mandy” is both Johansson’s last project and most unique. Johansson created scores for films like “The Theory of Everything” and “Mother!” but this is the first time he created a score using metal.

Scanlan said the Icelandic composer was thrilled to make a metal soundtrack which featured a 12 string guitar. The 12 string guitar adds a heaviness to the score which caters to the film’s dark, intense atmosphere. 

Scanlan said the score is unlike anything Johansson did before. Additionally, Johansson and the producers asked theaters screening the film to turn up the decibels 1.5 times the normal volume to enhance the film-viewing experience, Scanlan said.

“Mandy’s” opening scenes are sweet and warm. Red returns from his job as a logger and is embraced by Mandy, who’s been waiting for him. A slow, heavy rhythm plays in the background as they’re seen canoeing under the stars, watching a movie and cuddling in bed. The focus is to establish the perfect relationship between Red and Mandy, according to Scanlan. 

“We really recommend people see it in a theater with an audience so they can get into it,” Scanlan said.

The surreal film follows Red Miller (Cage) and Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough), a couple living alone in the woods. They live ordinary, happy lives until sadistic cult leader, Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roach), decides to kidnap Mandy and bring her into the group. After a tragedy, Red goes on a rage fueled rampage in vengeance. 

Jeremiah and his cult are a vicious bunch who’ve become deranged from a special brew of LSD, that a chemist made for them to achieve a higher level of spirituality and closeness with the divine. Giving his followers the special LSD helps cement this delusion of grandeur in their minds. The cult thrives on violence and Jeremiah’s narcissism helps fuel it.

The film stands out on many fronts such as its lighting, audio and visceral imagery. The use of red throughout the movie accompanies gruesome scenes filled with fire, blood and anger.

One notable use of red comes when Red and Mandy wake up to demons cast in red light, standing over their bed just before attacking. The lights in the house begin flashing and red fills the room as they attack, capturing the dread and confusion of the moment.    

“You could pause at any point in the film, print it out, what’s on the screen, and it would be considered a work of art,” Scanlan said.

Nicolas Cage isn’t afraid to get bloody, and some fighting scenes are particularly brutal. As “Mandy” progresses, it becomes more violent and unhinged. Red is bent on vengeance. After crafting a new weapon and retrieving an old one, he hurls himself at Jeremiah and the demons. Cage’s character is covered in blood by the end of the film after enduring several intense fights, including a chainsaw duel with one of Jeremiah’s strongest followers.

“Mandy” also pays homage to classic 1980s thriller movies such as “Friday the 13th” and “Hellraiser.” Scanlan explained there are easter eggs hidden throughout the movie as well as direct references.

A reference to “Hellraiser” comes in the form of demonic beings. Their black skin and the spikes protruding from them look very much alike to the characters from the 1980s classic.

“Mandy” is now playing in select theaters and is available on streaming platforms.

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