All the boys love Mandy Lane is a film that has been on my radar for a few months. I was very impressed with the rather excellent trailer which promised the convention warping ideas of setting the film in daylight and featuring a retro soundtrack. Advance word of mouth was very positive also and so I went into the film with high expectations.
The film opens with a welcome return of the ‘prank gone wrong’ so prevalent in early 80s fare. Mandy Lanes (Amber Heard) best friend Emmet (Michael Welch) convinces a Mandy obsessed jock to jump off the roof of his house into a swimming pool in an attempt to get into the titular girls pants. Needless to say, that it’s all fun and games until someone head butts the concrete.
Flash forward 9 months and mop topped stoner Red (Aaron Himelstein) is throwing a party at his father’s remote Texan ranch. Top of his invite list is the girl of his dreams, Mandy Lane, who reluctantly agrees to go much to the delight of the male contingent. Bird (Edwin Hodge) tries to sneak a kiss on the way to the ranch but lucks out. Jake (Luke Grimes) tries it on with all the girls and gets lucky on two occasions with the feisty Marlin (Melissa Price). Completing the sextet of party goers is the weight obsessed and lady garden negligent (?!!) Chloe (Whitney Able).
When they arrive at the house they meet up with ranch hand Garth, an outdoorsy hunk with a Voorhees friendly array of rifles and garden implements. Things then move into good ol’ fashioned slasher territory with the teens focussing all their energies on getting laid and generally wandering off alone into the night for the flimsiest of reasons. Marlin disappears after being treated like a doormat by the slimy Jake, Jake himself disappears after having his wedding tackle mocked and Bird runs off across the fields in pursuit of a jeep driven by Jake… or is it ?. Chloe thinks she sees an ominous looking figure at the window but puts it down to a cocaine induced hallucination and turns her attentions back to seducing Garth by acting like a 13 year old girl at a Wham concert.
At its core the film relies on the same type of plot devices used a thousand times before and even the surprise twist that comes 15 minutes from the end will have been anticipated by many. Fans of inventive slice and dice action may be disappointed also as the film isn’t overtly gruesome apart from one stand out moment where an unfortunate victim is literally force fed the barrel of a shotgun.
Still, however many weaknesses the film has in terms of its structure is made up for tenfold by the sheer style of the exercise. Eschewing the in vogue dark and gloomy dungeons of the current torture porn craze, the film has a wonderful bright and expansive feel to it. Two thirds of the film is set in daylight and the widescreen photography really captures some stunning images of rural Texas. It’s almost cliché to say this, but the film also has a lovely retro feel. The blood dripping main titles are reminiscent of MY BLOODY VALENTINE (1981) and the opening sequence is pure TERROR TRAIN (1980) or HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW (1982). Grainy film stock gives it a distinctly 70s feel (or a Rob Zombie feel for our younger readers) along with the prominent use of golden oldies on the soundtrack. To my ears it was very refreshing to have a hip hop and Slipknot-free 90 minutes. And proving that there is a God (or at least a patron saint of motion sickness) the film makers wisely have decided not to embrace the current love affair with shaky cam. I believe it is these very basic elements that will make Mandy Lane stand out from the crowd as much as anything else.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is a terrific looking movie shot with incredible style, although beneath the surface it is still just another, slightly edgy, teen slasher. So while it wasn’t the masterpiece I was hoping for, it still comes highly recommended, particularly in this barren year of decent slashers (*cough* HALLOWEEN remake *cough*).
female:5 / male:1
1) Female beaten to death with a shotgun
2) Male shot multiple times
3) Male eyes sliced with knife and stabbed in back
4) Male shot in back and beaten with gun
5) Male has neck broken
6) Male chopped up with axe