Director: Panos Cosmatos
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouéré, Richard Brake, Bill Duke, Line Pillet, Clément Baronnet
RunTime: 2 hrs 1 min
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 13 September 2018
Synopsis: Pacific Northwest. 1983 AD. Outsiders Red Miller (Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage) and Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough) lead a loving and peaceful existence. When their pine-scented haven is savagely destroyed by a cult led by the sadistic Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache), Red is catapulted into a phantasmagoric journey filled with bloody vengeance and laced with fire…
We could almost hear Nicolas Cage saying: “I’ve gotten my Oscar, so f*ck everything else.”
The Academy Award, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award recipient wowed the world for his performance as an alcoholic writer in Leaving Las Vegas (1995), and went on to star in extremely crowd pleasing action flicks like The Rock (1996), Face Off (1997( and Con Air (1997). But we feel that the 54 year old actor is waiting to unleash his inner weirdness. And with this odd film directed by Italian Canadian filmmaker Panos Cosmatos, Cage gets to go all out.
The story begins in the Pacific Northwestin 1983, where a man (Cage) and a woman (Andrea Riseborough, looking alluringly strange in the titular role) live happily in a forest cabin. Things go awry when a cult comes into their peaceful lives and the man is forced to embark on a journey of violent revenge.
Sounds straightforward? The screenplay co written by Cosmatos and Aaron Steward Ahn offers nothing more than a strange tale of man falls in love with woman, woman gets sacrificed by the baddies, man kills baddies. The horror thriller is not your mainstream revenge flick – it is a stylishly indulging production that is a cult film in the making.
There is so much style oozing from this movie. From the get go, the scenes are drenched in saturated colours which are initially uncomfortable to watch. Red filters are excessively draped across the screen, and characters don’t seem to do much except lounging around and speaking unfathomable lines. It is a hypnotic sensation, and the unique score composed by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson (The Theory of Everything) enhances that feeling.
When Mandy gets seemingly burnt into ashes, the film changes tone and becomes a slash galore. This is where Cage gets to strut his stuff. One extended scene sees the actor in a toilet, wearing a blood stained shirt and a pair of white briefs, drinking alcohol and screaming in agony. It is a strangely satisfying sequence that makes you forgive the actor for his involvement in disposable movies like Season of the Witch (2010), Drive Angry (2011) and Pay the Ghost (2015).
Things get gleefully violent as Cage gets rid of the bad guys one by one. Without giving away too much, there are large chainsaws, motorcycle riding monsters and more of Cage’s screaming and yelling. Amidst this, the film continues its stylistic approach with the painting like framing and the occasional animation which is odd but artistic.
Riseborough (Nocturnal Animals) demands your attention every time she appears on screen, and you wonder what the real deal is with this female lead. The cult members played by lesser known actors like Linus Roache, Bill Duke, Richard Brake and Ned Dennehy are creepily effective as they go about doing their stuff. In one sequence, Roache gives a monologue, disrobes and shows off hi, ahem, package. It is one of the strangest scenes we’ve seen.
This film is clearly not everyone’s cup of tea. We urge you to keep your minds open, and the results will be bizarrely gratifying.
(A hypnotic work of art that is more of an experience than a normal movie, this cult film demands your viewing)
Review by John Li