Review: All the Boys Love Mandy Lane

2013/10/11 16:45:08 +00:00 | Monte Yazzie

There are some really bad films that never see the light of the movie theater projector. “All The Boy’s Love Mandy Lane” is not one of them, even though the film has been completed and waiting to be seen in the US since 2006. Director Jonathan Levine (“Warm Bodies”) showcases his understanding of the genre, not necessarily reinventing as much as paying reverence to the 90’s style of slasher film accompanied with a heavy dose of mid-80’s sentiments. As demonstrated in “Warm Bodies,” character plays an important role in Levine’s films and can be seen in the clever rendering of the identifiable archetypes here. “All The Boys Love Mandy Lane” is a well-above average horror film that genre fans should seek out.

Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) is the girl in high school every guy wanted to be with. Beautiful, smart, and self-assured, Lane is invited by the popular kids in her high school to come away on a weekend trip to the vacation home of one of the teens. Lane is immediately met with the advances of every guy on the trip, to the irritation of the other girls. She has this quality of ambiguity, so you never know if she is flirting or just be being nice. This creates some intriguing folly from the young men and some ambitious motivations from the other girls in the group. While things seem to be going as planned, a stalking killer shows up and throws everything into disarray in a confident decision that switches up the tried and true formula of other slasher fair.

Levine exhibits a keen talent for understanding characters. He crafts them with a very sincere quality that shines throughout his films. In this movie, the characters are distinguishable in an authentic way and the plot is convoluted enough to keep the audience guessing even when the plot seems grasped. Amber Heard is the standout performance in the lead, with her innocence veiling an underlying angst. The remaining cast is also purposely typecast in the familiar horror film roles; the jock, princess, stoner, best friend, and loner are all present. The attribute of confusion seen in the characters and parts of the story should be commended. It’s a difficult task changing the familiar methods of the slasher genre, but “Mandy Lane” does a good job of simply applying the proper creative attention to accustomed standards.

Though the narrative does a clever job of turning the clichés and conventions of horror films into a self-deprecating display, it regrettably stalls in finding an appropriate way to transition into the final act. Though the twist is somewhat surprising, it also feels forced. It’s a narrative flaw in a film that succeeds in nearly every other realm.

Levine makes “Mandy Lane” something greater than the script might reveal. By implementing unexpected reveals and wayward character motivations, the film creates an atmosphere that feels unanticipated all amidst other elements that are intentionally predictable. “Mandy Lane” would have shined brighter if it had been released sooner, but it doesn’t feel tarnished by time. That alone is an accomplishment for a genre that changes so quickly.

Film Score: 4/5