Dir: Jonathan Levine 90 min.
UK release: 15th February 2008
Starring: Amber Heard , Anson Mount, Whitney Able, Michael Welch.
Though bloodthirsty British/Irish horror fans would’ve had an, admittedly small, chance to catch it back in 2008, inventive indie slasher ‘All The Boys Love Mandy Lane’ is only now getting a proper US release, which is a shame because it really deserves far more attention.
The film stars the strikingly beautiful Amber Heard as the titular heroine, a Final Girl with a difference, whom, as is fairly obvious from the title, is quite desired amongst her peers. We first meet her at a typical high school party, during which her best mate (played by a perfectly emo Michael Welch, of ‘Twilight’ fame) tricks a jock-type into killing himself, in a scene that’s not exactly heavy on gore, but sets the tone perfectly, thanks to some pretty sick sound effects.
We’re then thrust into more familiar territory as, months later, Mandy agrees to stay in a remote farmhouse, with a group of stock character teen types – most of whom are sporting boners for her – and, soon enough, they are being picked off one by one by some unknown, masked assailant.
The interesting thing about ‘Mandy Lane’ is that, for the most part, it plays like the standard issue slasher fare. There’s the virginal, hot girl, front and centre throughout, who spends most of her time running away from a hooded, masked serial killer, while her peers, from the stoner to the slut, take turns freaking out or refusing to believe anything is really wrong. However, it’s almost the antithesis to the subgenre, as everything is turned on its head when the killer’s identity is revealed to us early on in the proceedings.
Filmed on location in Austin, Texas, the film is sun-drenched in the same manner as the classic ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ and, although the kills are far less gruesome, they are effective and reasonably inventive – this is not just some dude with a knife, this is somebody with a real, genuine motive. A twist in the final act, though you may see it coming, still packs a significant punch, especially within the somewhat diluted subgenre, which all too often relies on the most obvious, yet least believable, conclusion.
‘Mandy Lane’ retains its serious tone throughout, but, rather impressively, it manages to resist the urge to make any kind of statement about high school, teenage crushes or anything else – very little is explained once the twist has been revealed, and it ends on a rather clever note.
Director Jonathan Levine has since dipped his toe into sort-of horror with last year’s fairly decent zombie love story Warm Bodies, but it’s Mandy Lane that showcases his love for the genre. The cinematography is gorgeous, and everything is handled with care, even in the most horrible moments.
‘Mandy Lane’ is a slasher that turns the idea itself on its head, in much the same way that ‘Scream’ did by killing its star, Drew Barrymore, in the opening sequence. It should be the same old shit we’re used to, but thanks to a great setting, an inventive twist, two strong central performances from the gorgeous Heard, alongside Welch as her tortured best mate, and a cast of dumb beauties whom it’s incredibly fun to pick off one by one, All The Boys Love Mandy Lane manages to be a fresh, entertaining, and suitably spooky entry to this, often unfairly, derided subgenre.