Written by Josh Brewer, March 19, 2016, at 6:30 p.m. Tweet to: @theJWBrewer
Title: All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
Director: Jonathan Levine
Writer: Jacob Forman
Release Date: 2006 – Festival Circuit; Oct. 11, 2013 – USA
Cast: Amber Heard, Anson Mount, Whitney Able, Michael Welch
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane Cliff’s Notes
Newly popular Mandy Lane joins the cool kids at a ranch for a weekend getaway. While there, the standard getaway things go down: booze, drugs, blowjobs, and, you know, murder.
A post-modern slasher with a strong 70’s vibe? I say to thee: yay! After a slew of disappointing slasher flicks (I’m looking at you, Killjoy 3 and Sorority Row), I’ve finally found a nice quench to my slasher thirst. Looking for groovy teens being slaughtered? Check! Vicious kills? Check? Enough sexual tension to strangle a kitten? Check!
None of this would be engaging without the core teen characters, and Mandy Lane doesn’t skimp. Not only do these teens look like teens, they act and feel like teens. Most of the cast was between 18 and 25 during filming, which gives a huge air of realism to the proceedings. No 33-year-old teenagers in this house! And that realistic jive flows through the entire piece. The characters were given enough intelligence to make choices, meaning I was engaged in the story, not outside it commenting on stupid move number 12. This puppy is set squarely in the real world, and that made the events hit that much harder.
Anything not coming up roses? A few things here or there. I was craving a few more hardcore horror bits in this puppy, especially in the second act. This shindig needed a big hit in the middle! I was also a little taken aback by the third act. It didn’t manage to maintain the creative push that the earlier parts of this flick had in spades, so it seemed a little more mundane that the rest of the proceedings.
Amber Heard is just fantastic in this flick. It’s no wonder that she’s gone on to a successful career since this puppy was made. Likewise, I could have watched Anson Mount do his ranch-hand thing all day long. Beer that man, he deserves it! Also, it’s worth mentioning the awesome young cast, who filled each scene with a youth that is often missing from horror. Special mention to Whitney Able, who takes what could be a one dimensional rich girl character and turns it into a powerhouse of vulnerability.
Levine fills his frames with fantastic vistas of rural Texas, quality angles and enough imagery to keep the viewer glued to the screen. He built tension like a pro, gave enough umph to his kills to keep the roller-coaster going, and handled the slower scenes with aplomb. Levine also lingers on the horror of the situation just long enough to let it hit that much harder.
Forman’s script, or at least the first two-thirds of it, takes joy in approaching the formula of the slasher and twisting it to his needs. The past trauma, build-up of characters, setting, and refusal to get help are all addressed and twisted into a new and exciting form. Unfortunately, the third act tries to twist just one too many times and, as a result, falls a little flat. For a flick that oozed creativity for the first hour ten, the last twenty seemed a little too cookie cutter, especially the last major turn, which I called the second the third block kicked in. Also, just a tiny nitpick, we’re in on the killer’s identity really early in this puppy. I really wish we could have held off on that bit of info just a touch.
This isn’t a gore powerhouse, but when it hits, it hurts. The effects are all practical and match the tone of the rest of the film perfectly.
Machete fight? Shotgun blowjob? Anson Mount brooding? All winners.
As with a slew of other recent horror offerings, I feel like this puppy never really jumped into horror gear. Sure, tension and chase scenes are awesome, but at times this puppy read a bit more like an old fashioned tragedy than slasher flick. Can’t win ‘em all.
Despite its flaws, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is a fun, kickass little ride. Sure, the ending is a little unsure of itself, but the trip getting there is more than worth the price of admission.