PLOT: A man seeks vengeance on a weird cult that kidnapped and murdered his girlfriend.
Yikes. I’m going to chalk this one up to maybe I wasn’t in the right headspace for this film. This is a wholly unpleasant experience from top to bottom, and while I guess I should have seen that coming given the subject matter. The promise of a Nicolas Cage in peak Cage mode had me hoping that there would be some fun (or, more accurately, a little bit of vindication) to be had. I mean, he has a chainsaw fight in it; you’d think it wouldn’t take itself too seriously. But, oh boy, does it ever.
Cage plays Red, a man living a pretty simple, solitary life in a cabin with his girlfriend, Mandy. One day, Mandy catches the eye of a crazed cult leader that headquarters nearby. The cult leader then sends his motorcycle-riding demon thugs to kidnap her to make her his own. After a brutal beating, Red arms himself and sets out to get revenge against anyone that gets in his way.
The movie, based on its logline, sets itself up to be a decent schlocky grindhousey picture, but it’s so wrapped up in style over substance, that the fun is completely sucked out of it, leaving the viewer to sift through visual metaphors to reach a core that is a nonstop downer. I get that this film tackles extreme subject matters, but let’s face it: at this point, Nicolas Cage is going to attract a certain type of viewer and when people read that he’s in a movie where he brandishes a chainsaw, they’re going to come to expect something a little lighter than this film. Maybe that’s a problem with the marketing of this film, but it’s far too dense to satisfy that itch of a wild, violent good time. Cage delivers his over-the-topness just fine, but when everything else is just so bleak, it’s hard to derive any enjoyment out of it.
This film is visually impressive and if I was in a different headspace, I may have enjoyed it more. Cage does what you hire Cage to do, but the film’s overall tone mutes any sort of enjoyment that is inherent when watching Cage do what he does. What’s left is a schlocky metaphor that just makes you feel bad. So if this was trying to give you the experience of an acid trip gone terribly wrong, I guess it accomplished what it wanted to do. I just can’t imagine anyone liking the time they spent with it.