Cults have been the villains of many a horror movie, but none quite like the one in the hands of writer/director Panos Cosmatos. In Mandy, a cult kidnaps Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) and her boyfriend Red (Nicolas Cage). After putting them through an ordeal, the cult faces Red’s vengeance.
To create a cult like you’ve never seen on screen, Cosmatos did a lot of work, but actors like Linus Roache, who plays the cult leader Jeremiah, ran with it.
“I wrote a small character bio for Linus and he expanded it into an amazing memoir written in his voice into great depth about his psychology,” Cosmatos said. “He read it to me one night and it was one of the best experiences of my life having that read to me. It’s on the record, the CD that was given out at the screening. It’s the B-side. My Journey, it’s called.”
Hopefully, they’ll keep giving out those CDs as Mandy screens around the country. The spoken word part is over 15 minutes long.
“I can’t pretend that I even know the whole world of it,” Roache said, “But it was just so much fun to put together a real-world story with an alternative reality of chemists and hallucinogenic drugs you’ve never even imagined. It was wild.”
Cosmatos said he approached the cult-like he would as a dungeon master building a new role-playing game.
“It’s kind of a Dungeons and Dragons module that exists within that sort of contemporary Pacific Northwest. The artifacts that exist in the film that they use, the power totems. Me and Aaron [Stewart-Ahn], the cowriter, actually wrote character stat sheets. Nobody ever saw them but we had stat sheets for everybody.”
Mandy premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.