(director/writer: Panos Cosmatos; screenwriters: stort by Panos Cosmatos/Aaron Stewart-Ahn; cinematographer: Benjamin Loeb; editor: Brett W. Bachman; music: Johann Johannsson; cast: Nicolas Cage (Red Miller), Andrea Riseborough (Mandy Bloom), Linus Roache (Sand Jeremiah), Ned Dennehy (Brother Swan), Olwen Fouéré (Mother Marlene), Richard Brake (The Chemist), Bill Duke (Caruthers); Runtime: 120; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Josh Waller, Elijah Wood, Daniel Noah, Nate Bolotin, Adrian Politowski, Martin Metz; RLJE/XYZ Films; 2018)
“If you’re a fan of Cage, then this is a bloody good one to see him go bonkers. “
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An ultra-violent and demented fantasy revenge biker film written and directed by Panos Cosmatos as a follow-up to his wacky “Beyond The Black Rainbow (2010).” The flick is tailor-made for the funky artistic-minded Midnight arthouse audience who can salivate over a Manson-like grisly cult film. It’s based on a story by Cosmatos.
The strange religious cult thriller is co-written by Aaron Stewart-Ahn, that’s really fine despite lacking humor, depth or wit. If you’re a fan of Cage, then this is a bloody good one to see him go bonkers. Others beware, its mayhem is over the top.
The pace is electric, the music by Johann Johannsson is pulsating with a synthesiser-heavy beat and the visuals of Ben Loeb are stunningly beautiful–they seemingly look much like a Turner painting in a whirlwind of gore or psychedelic like a trippy demonic film. The movie is set in 1983, in the rural Pacific Northwest. Residing in the woods at Crystal Lake are the lumberjack Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) and his beloved pulp-fiction cover illustrator wife Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). They have found bliss together. But she’s coveted by the LSD-driven Children of the New Dawn’s deranged Satanic cult leader Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roach), an evil group who just moved into the area. The cult is backed by an army of demonic leather-clad bikers called the Black Skulls. When asked by the cult’s messiah-like figure for help, the fanatical Brother Swan (Ned Dennehy) gets his bikers to burst into the couple’s home while Jeremiah forces Mandy in various ways to be swayed by his absurd seduction methods. In the film’s second half Red puts on his game face and goes into his crazy mode for revenge against the intruders, as the film delivers its pure lunacy fix that the viewers expected.
The slight plot allows its fierce mood to make this an atmospheric film that might be enjoyable if viewed as a competently made bad trip fantasy movie and not explored too deeply for further challenges.
REVIEWED ON 9/11/2018 GRADE: B https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/