Mandy / Banana OG

Where do I begin? It's already been a couple days since I've watched Mandy and I'm still having trouble wrapping my head around it. It's not that it's some convoluted story full of plot twists and hidden allegory only identified after multiple viewings. No. The story itself is a pretty straightforward (albeit surreal) revenge plot. I'm having trouble because of something a bit more complicated.



You see, I'm not a very religious person. When it comes to church, I'm basically a CEO (Christmas and Easter Only). And even then, it's under protest. Yet, watching Mandy was a spiritual experience where I felt like my soul was being touched by the hand of God himself. Which is an absolutely batshit crazy thing to say considering Mandy is a no-holds-barred gore fest! But in spite of that, Mandy took me on a spiritual journey across dimensions that I've never experienced before.

As you may be aware, the movie that inspired my desire to begin documenting my horror movie, weed pairing experiences was I am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House. That movie coupled with my Blackwater high took me to a place in my mind that I had never been to prior. Since then I've been chasing that feeling. The only movie/strain that has come close has been The Killing of a Sacred Deer high on LA Confidential. Like "Pretty Thing", "Sacred Deer" messed me up in the best possible way. But those two experiences can't compare to the reality-bending LSD-induced psychedelic spectacle that is Mandy.

This movie demands to be watched high. No, scratch that… This movie demands to be watched when you're proper stoned. Like nothing less than a 7 on the high scale. Although, most likely the higher you are, the better the experience will be. In fact, I have a feeling that director Panos Cosmatos intended for people to be high while watching Mandy. I also have a feeling that Panos occasionally (frequently?) dabbles in psychedelic drugs. Obviously I have no substantiating evidence to back my claims. Let's just call it an educated hunch.



Still here? Whoa! Color me impressed! I've now rambled on for four paragraphs and haven't even started really digging into either the movie or strain yet. By the way, it's Banana OG. Which happens to be terribly forced segue to dovetail into my strain of the evening. Banana OG is an indica-dominant hybrid that's crossed between the legendary OG Kush and Bananas strains. Buds aren't super dense, but are very frosty and sticky when broken apart. It imparts a sweet smelling aroma and flavor that matches. Effects are quick to take hold only taking a handful of minutes to begin. Midway through my bedtime ritual I was already baked and pretty sure had lost all ability to speak. My tongue felt thick. All pain melted away and in an instant, brushing my teeth became an event. My internal dialogue assured me to stay focused and lean on a lifetime of repetition to help me finish brushing my teeth. Afterwards, I slowly stumbled to my bed - arms outstretched for balance. The carpet on my feet felt amazing like I was walking on soft pillows. My room seemed familiar, but oddly alien like a memory I was seeing for the first time in real life. To say Banana OG knocked me on my ass would be an understatement.

Mandy stars Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion, Birdman) in the title role and Nicolas Cage as her boyfriend, Red, in his most Nicolas Cagey role yet, and maybe ever. This is the Nic Cage we've all been waiting for. I'm not talking about "capable Hollywood actor" Cage we see in movies like National Treasure or "serious Oscar actor" Cage in Leaving Las Vegas. I'm talking the "bizarre and eccentric off-the-rails" Cage we've seen glimmers of in straight-to-bargain-bin movies like Drive Angry and Mom and Dad. Imagine that Cage, then crank it to eleven, nay, thirteen.
This is the Nic Cage we've all been waiting for.
As mentioned earlier, the overall premise is pretty straightforward although broken into two very distinct halves. The first half is actually a rather touching love story between two heavy-metal loving partners - Red, a lumberjack logger, and Mandy his artist girlfriend who both live off-grid in the woods. It's a beautiful relationship that's further visualized by a trippy collage of imagery that elevated Banana OG high to new heights. You'll know it when you see it, but let's just say there's a kaleidoscopic fire involved where I was able to physically feel the heat emanating from my TV. Did I mention that the movie also takes place in the 80's? Rad.

But once an off chance encounter happens between Mandy and a traveling religious cult led by Jeremiah (Linus Roache), things get sideways really quick. Jeremiah, who can only be described as a cross between Charles Manson and Buffalo Bill becomes infatuated with Mandy and demands that his cult goons kidnap her to be indoctrinated into the family. Things don't play out as Jeremiah intended, though. Then, in a fit of rage and jealousy he brutally murders Mandy while Red is bound, gagged, and forced to watch then left to die. It's all very unsettling and perfectly sets up the second half.



Unsurprisingly, Red is able to free himself. Thirsty for revenge, he embarks on an over-the-top, acid trip of a nightmare to systematically take out each cult member involved in Mandy's murder. It's a joy to behold, with one caveat. Director, Panos Cosmatos, really turns up the artsy pretentiousness during the second half. At this point (for me) what I was watching transcended beyond just a movie and became art. I was so entranced by the surrealistic imagery that the "movie" part became secondary. Scenes are strung together without any consideration for cohesiveness. All logic is thrown out the window in place of a drug-induced series of punch-drunk candy colored dreamscapes. This WILL lose people. But on Banana OG, I ate it up like a kid on Halloween. It was delicious!

No, this movie isn't for everyone. It's not even for every horror fan. But personally, I can't recommend this movie enough. I absolutely loved it and have been spewing its virtues to anyone who's willing to listen. Go in with an open mind (preferably super high) and I'm sure you'll dig it as much as I did.

How about you? Have you watched Mandy or tried Banana OG? What are your thoughts? Did you have a similar experience? Please leave a comment and let me know. And of course, don't forget to follow Bloody High on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.


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