I say this without a shred of irony: I love Nicholas Cage and truly believe he’s a national treasure (pun intended). Sure, he’s made plenty of questionable movies, but the actor always commits to his characters 100%, often conveying levels of madness even veteran actors can’t match. Still, the thespian has become meme fodder in the Internet Age, a phenomenon dubbed “Cage Rage”. Just search “Nicholas Cage Bees” for some choice examples.
In his latest film, Mandy (which just hit select theaters and VOD this weekend), Cage plays Red Miller, a lumberjack whose artist girlfriend Mandy is abducted by a violent, drug-fueled sex cult. After enduring devastating physical and emotional trauma, Red embarks on a feverish quest for vengeance. As expected, Cage goes all out in order to convey the guilt, anger, and insanity of the situation.
On the one hand, it’s classic “Cage Rage”; on the other hand, Cage’s “meme-ification” may be doing Mandy, directed by Panos Cosmatos, a disservice. In a recent interview with IndieWire, the actor got candid about how his Internet infamy is a double-edged sword.
“The issue is, with the advent of the internet, doing these mashups, where they pull these choice moments without the context of the whole film around it to support it, has created this meme-ification, if you will. It’s been branded “Cage Rage,” and it’s frustrating. I’m sure it’s frustrating for Panos, who has made what I consider a very lyrical, internal, and poetic work of art, to have this ‘Cage Rage’ thing slammed all over his movie. It’s one thing for me, because I’d like to think I could continue to work with Panos, but the internet has kind of done the movie a disservice.”
When pressed on how “Cage Rage” has affected Mandy, he states:
“I think that [Mandy hasn’t] been given perhaps a fair viewing by virtue of the fact that the internet has mashed them up with these moments that have been cherry-picked, that aren’t really in the context of the character or how the character got there. I have to be honest. I did make certain choices to realize my abstract and more ontological fantasies with film performance, by playing people who were crazy, or by playing people who were on drugs, or supernaturally possessed — so that I have the license, if you will, to explore the German Expressionistic style of acting, or the Western kabuki. Whatever you want to call it.”
While Mandy probably isn’t a film mainstream horror fans will flock to, it’s being lauded by genre aficionados with a penchant for fever dream, hallucinatory surrealism. If you’ve yet to see the film, give the synopsis and trailer a look-see below.
In the Pacific Northwest in 1983, outsiders Red Miller and Mandy Bloom lead a loving and peaceful existence. When their pine-scented haven is savagely destroyed by a cult led by the sadistic Jeremiah Sand, Red is catapulted into a phantasmagoric journey filled with bloody vengeance and laced with deadly fire.
Cosmatos co-wrote the screenplay for Mandy with Aaron Stewart-Ahn; in addition to Cage, the film stars Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, and Richard Brake.