(US/UK/Belgium - 2018)
Directed by Panos Cosmatos. Written by Panos Cosmatos and Aaron Stewart-Ahn. Cast: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Bill Duke, Richard Brake, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouere, Lane Pillet, Clement Baronnet, Alexis Julemont, Stephan Fraser. (Unrated, 121 mins)
It's been six years since Panos Cosmatos' debut feature, the instant cult classic BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW, a surreal mindfuck of a waking nightmare that felt like Stanley Kubrick, Dario Argento, David Cronenberg, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Andrei Tarkovsky secretly collaborated on a sci-fi film that aired once at 3:30 am on Civic TV in an alternate universe 1983 and no one who watched it lived to tell about it. My reaction to BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW was intense. It haunted me for days, even weeks after watching it. I kept going back to it, drawn to it. It still has this weird hold on me, like it was made for me. As bizarre as it sounds, I had an almost dizzying sense of deja vu the first time watching it--not in the sense that it reminded me of other movies, but rather, that I dreamt some of its striking imagery before. Cosmatos, the son of the late journeyman director George P. Cosmatos (THE CASSANDRA CROSSING, RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II, COBRA, TOMBSTONE), said that his inspiration for BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW came from browsing the horror sections of video stores as a kid and imagining how the movies--which his dad wouldn't let him watch at that point--would look based simply on the cover box art. BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW was met with significant acclaim, but even those who weren't captivated by it still generally conceded that Cosmatos was a promising filmmaker worth watching.
"Starless" as lumberjack Red Miller (Cage) lives a quiet life with his bookish, heavy-metal loving artist girlfriend Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough). Mandy catches the eye of Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache), a failed, one-and-done 1970s folk rocker-turned-hippie cult leader, who commands his Children of the New Dawn disciples to bring her to him. This involves conjuring the Black Skulls, a gang of LSD-addled demon bikers who appear in Red's house in a sequence that plays out as an episode of sleep paralysis and take Mandy away. As Jeremiah and his acolytes attempt to brainwash Mandy, things take a horrific turn. Red is left for dead and, after picking up some weapons from his buddy Caruthers (always a treat to see the great Bill Duke), goes on a nonstop, visceral, insanely bloody rampage of vengeance against the Black Skulls and Sand's cult. And yes...this leads to a chainsaw fight that takes its rightful place alongside standard-bearers like DARK OF THE SUN and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2.