I’m not sure how to go about this. I’ll let Saint Nicolas of Cage start me off.
“Weirdo hippie types”
“Bikers and gnarly psychos”
I’ll warn you right off the bat that there will be major SPOILERS in this review. I highly recommend checking the film out and then coming back if you want to know my views on it. There’s a shit ton going down in this neon nightmare piece of cosmic horror. If you’re interested, I’ll tell you right now that I loved it and it’s trio of head actors (Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough & Linus Roache) are all fantastic and everyone behind the camera from the director to the lighting department deserve accolades. So…go and watch it then come on back. I’ll wait.
Nicolas Cage is Red Miller and he is living his best life. He’s a lumberjack who lives and loves in blissful solitude with his alienish/angelic girl Mandy. They reside in the isolated Shadow Mountains in the year of our lord 1983. A wrench is about to be thrown into his ideal existence in the form of Jeremiah, a failed musician now cult leader who has a chance encounter with Mandy and senses a cosmic connection with the young lady. Not one to be denied anything, Jeremiah has his loyal servants summon a quartet of demon bikers to incapacitate Red and get Mandy ready for initiation. Initiation does not go as planned and after being laughed at and embarrassed Jeremiah does what any shitheel religious spouting nutjob would do. He burns Mandy alive in front of her lover and foolishly leaves Nicolas Cage to wallow in his own pity.
Cage frees himself of his barbed wire shackles and after your typical underwear and vodka bathroom freakout, he decides that vengeance is due. He collects a crossbow and information from a friend (Bill Duke) and then forges himself a nasty looking battle axe. He hunts down the demon bikers and then sets his sights on the cult that took his love. Madness, violence and a cameo from Richard Brake are all in order.
The three act structure (each act getting its own title card) is wonderfully utilized. Shadow Mountains 1983 A.D. works to inject a disquieting yet oddly calm level of unease, Children of the New Dawn introduces the protagonists and sets the action in motion and then Mandy takes a few bumps of cocaine and explodes into your brain as Red goes on his epic journey of violence (and yes, this is the longest act). Mythical objects make an appearance, there’s a chainsaw battle and Nightbeast is watched just before shit goes south.
Nicolas Cage gives his usual wild performance but this time it’s justified and he seems pretty damn enthusiastic to be in the flick. Andrea Riseborough is hypnotic in her oddness but it’s never assertive. It gives her an almost fairytale like atmosphere about her and Linus Roache plays the insecure but manipulative Jeremiah to perfection. The cameos are fun and well utilized and every member of the cult is exactly what they need to be. The designs for the demonic bikers are more subtle than I was expecting but it only works to make them all the more terrifying. Jóhann Jóhannsson’s (RIP) score is perfect and the Belgium shooting location is primal and gives off an almost alien energy. Mixed with the neon lighting, it burrows into you and successfully pulls off the cosmic nightmare it’s going for. A perfect fucking film 10/10