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Best Movies of 2018 - Mandy

As another great year of movies comes to a close, JoBlo.com staff will be curating our selection of the best films of 2018. Whether it be animation or live action, comedy or drama, horror or action (or maybe even a romance!), these are the movies that struck our staff more than any other. So enjoy our picks and let us know what your favorites were in the comments below.

Released September 14, 2018

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? MANDY is a truly psychotic action horror thriller that reaches up into the asses of its audience, throttles their spine, and doesn't let go until the last deadly deed is done. Taking place in the year 1983, the film finds Red, a misanthropic lumberjack, living in seclusion with his artistic and heterochromic girlfriend, Mandy. One day, Mandy attracts the attention of a cult leader by the name of Jeremiah Sand, who summons a hellish group of motorcycle-riding demons to kidnap her. Upon making the grim discovery of his girlfriend's abduction, Red arms himself with a crossbow, his trusty axe, and an insatiable thirst for revenge against those who disturbed the couple's tranquil courtship.

WHO'S IN IT? Nicolas Cage (RAISING ARIZONA, LEAVING LAS VEGAS), Andrea Riseborough (BATTLE OF THE SEXES, GRUDGE), Linus Roache (BATMAN BEGINS, NON-STOP), Ned Dennehy (PEAKY BLINDERS, GOOD OMENS), Olwen Fouéré (THE SURVIVALIST, THIS MUST BE THE PLACE), Richard Brake(DOOM, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE), Bill Duke (PREDATOR, COMMANDO), Line Pillet (VERMIST, LITTLE BLACK SPIDERS), Clément Baronnet (LE COLLE, PLEIN LA VUE), Alexis Julemont (GRAVE, LIGHT THEREAFTER) and Stephan Fraser.

WHO MADE IT? MANDY is directed by BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW helmer Panos Cosmatos, who co-write the film with Aaron Stewart-Ahn. Producing the psychedelic splatterfest are Daniel Noah, Josh C. Waller, Elijah Wood, Adrian Politowski, Martin Metz and Nate Bolotin.

WHY IT'S ONE OF THE BEST FILMS OF 2018: It's been a long time since I've walked away from a film thinking to myself, "What the fuck did I just watch?" In the interest of full-disclosure, I must confess that I didn't get my hands on MANDY until its home release on October 30th. Even then, I didn't pop the film into my player until I was vacationing with my wife in Montego Bay, Jamaica. With much enthusiasm, and local wares in hand, we strapped ourselves in for what was undoubtedly one of the freakiest, most unsettling, and visually splendiferous films I've seen in ... well, ever, really.

While I do subscribe to the thought that MANDY is a bit slow to start, Cosmatos' aptitude for dramatic angles, his judicious use of over-saturated colors, and  knack for incorporating stylish lens flares makes for a visual feast throughout the entire wild ride - even in the film's quieter moments. For me, I feel as if the true, visceral beauty of MANDY continues to grow as tensions mount between Red and Jeremiah Sand's barbarous group of followers. Before long, Cosmatos and Stewart-Ahn's brutal and hyper-violent revenge tale completely spirals out of control, resulting in a nightmare parade of twisted emotions, hallucinatory hijinks, and more blood than a thousand gushing Timberland Lodge elevators.

Another chef's kiss-worthy aspect of this diabolical film is its soundtrack. Arranged and composed by Icelandic musician Jóhann Jóhannsson, the music throughout MANDY oozes with dread, personality, and atmosphere. Be it the forboding synth moans of the track "Seeker of the Serpent's Eye", the doomsday guitar riffs of "Sand", or the glitch-pop meets STRANGER THINGS sci-fi vibe of "Forging the Beast", Jóhannsson's work here is just as terrifying as it is a compliment to the film's insane visual style and story.

In a year packed with any number of great films, MANDY was the one that most made me feel like the music lover in that old school Maxell commercial. I love that the dude who made the drugs, The Chemist (Richard Brake), is undoubtedly the closest to God in a film filled with zealots. I really dig the way Cosmatos gives his audience time to become invested in Red and Mandy's relationship, thereby making it all the more damaging when Mandy's presence is reduced to ashes. Oh, and there's a fucking chainsaw fight. 'Nuff said.

BEST SCENES: Um, did you not just hear me mention the words "chainsaw fight?" Amidst all of the other insane set pieces littered throughout the film, the scene involving Cage's Red Miller and Dennehy's Brother Swan going full-on Texas Chainsaw Massacre on one another for me is one of the most memorable moments in cinema this year, hands down. Between you and me, I think I might have excitedly peed a little when Red grabbed the chain off that log, channeling Cage's Ghost Rider roots. I was all like, "Oh snap! It's time for some penance, bitch!"

BEST LINES:

Red Miller: "A psychotic drowns where the mystic swims. You're drowning. I'm swimming."

Red Miller: "I'm your God now," says Red, just before crushing Jeremiah's head with his bare hands.

NOTEWORTHY PERFORMANCE(S): Awards worthy? Nah. Noteworthy? Oh hell yeah! For my money, I think Nicolas Cage more than delivered the goods with his turn as Red Miller in MANDY. As much as I enjoy sullen and serious Cage, I find that a heroic dose of Cage-unhinged is good for the soul, every now and again. For me, MANDY provides the CON AIR actor with an opportunity to do a hypnotic dance between both extremes, and we're all the richer for it as fans of his signature style.

AWARDS WORTHY? While I'm positive that MANDY won't be garnering any major awards buzz, I would not be surprised to see Cosmatos' drug addled drama of the soul be recognized at next year's Saturn Awards. Honestly, I could see MANDY fitting in right alongside other films like A QUIET PLACE, HEREDITARY, SUSPIRIA, HALLOWEEN and THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT, just to name a few. 

RE-WATCH O-METER: Personally, I think MANDY is absolutely worth an annual viewing at the very least. As a cinephile who's always eager to shuffle a new film into his deck - particularly throughout the month of October - I can imagine myself getting a crave on for this movie as Halloween approaches. Beyond that, I think MANDY is a great film to fire up for friends who've never seen it. It's a conversation starter, that's for sure. For a film with surprisingly little dialogue, it seems to say an awful lot. Plus, you get to casually glance over at their expressions as Red loses his mind, or the part when Jeremiah tries to get himself hard, and fails. Enjoy!

Source: JoBlo.com

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