ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE
Director: Jonathan Levine
Year of release: 2006
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 86-90 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Both
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: As the title would suggest attractive teen Mandy Lane is the object of desire for all the boys at her high school. Many of the boys are desperate to try and bed Mandy, so much so that it has become almost like a competition of sorts to see who can get physical with her first. Mandy for her part though remains mainly uninterested and elusive. Along with her friend Emmett she attends a pool party and she soon attracts the attention of the blonde jock hosting the affair. After being rebuffed the jock is persuaded to jump off a roof into the swimming pool by Emmett to try and impress Mandy, a stunt which ends badly when he instead falls to his death. Months later in the wake of the death we learn that Mandy has distanced herself from Emmett and has now fallen in with a cooler crowd. One of her new friends Red invites her to spend a few days at his isolated ranch along with a few others from the group. When Mandy agrees the boys set to attend are delighted, seeing it as there chance to wear her down and seduce her over the course of the time away. As the weekend of fun begins however it doesn't take long for someone to crash the party intent on murder.
Good points: The film has a pretty impressive soundtrack featuring mainly vintage type pop songs which suit the scenes for which they are chosen really well. I'd go as far to say some of the best music (in terms of actual songs) that I've ever heard in a slasher is on display in this film so a fine job has been done in this area.
The majority of the time the film also looks really good with excellent cinematography. Much of the action takes place outside in broad daylight which makes a nice change and it is these parts in particular that look so good visually. I did have a small complaint in this area in that in one scene where the kids are swimming just before a snake enters the water there was a lot of sun shining on the camera so it was hard to see what was going on. Generally speaking though the setting of the ranch and open fields looked fantastic during the daylight.
In typical slasher fashion there is a bit of a twist at the end which in this case is pretty effective. Many might see it coming but in my case I only guessed it a few minutes before the reveal so for most of the time I didn't suspect. Although I would say the twist works out well and does benefit the film it does cloud the waters a bit in terms of motive and motivation as after the twist is revealed it isn't too clear as to why the person is doing what they are doing.
I enjoyed the character of the ranch hand Garth as he seemed like a good bloke and probably the only real likeable character but at the same time he held on to an air of mystery that meant we were never sure if he was mixed up in the murders in some way. I imagine he would also provide some nice eye candy for any female viewers.
Bad Points: What really let the film down for me was the killer who has to quite possibly be one of the worst looking killers in slasher history. There is no real mystery around him, very little effort made with costume or disguise and essentially no air of menace or sense of intimidation. As such the film lacks a bit in atmosphere and tension and is not at all scary.
Another thing I wasn't too keen on regarding the killer is that he had an over reliance on guns. Guns aren't something I want to see too much of in a slasher but sadly here one seems to be the weapon of choice. I think I recall reading that the director wanted his film to be seen as more of an edgy drama than horror/slasher so maybe the lack of effort with the killer and over use of guns was his way of distancing himself from the traditions of horror.
The deaths aren't very good with little gore to speak of. There was a decent bit involving the long barrel of a gun being shoved down someones throat but it was really more torture than a kill and even this has been done better in other films such as the similar bottle kill in Sorierty Row. The Chloe kill was okay I guess as it tied in with the twist but other than that there is little to get excited about.
There was a stupid part near the end when despite being on the run from a shooter, Chloe and Red think it is a good idea to stop right out in the open to share a kiss. Of course it makes them sitting ducks for the killer.
Most of the characters are really obnoxious and unlikable leaving us without anyone to root for. Even Mandy herself while seeming the best of the bunch is really bland and barely says anything. Other than looking good she does little of consequence up until the end. The lack of dialogue from her was perhaps by design to emphasise that all the males were shallow in just wanting her for her looks instead of taking personality into account. I found it a bit unrealistic though as when you are in school there are hot girls everywhere so although they would have lust towards her of course I don't think the boys would become so fixated on Mandy above all others unless she had a great personality too which she clearly didn't.
Verdict: It's a real mixed bag with a couple of very good things on display like the soundtrack and the setting of the beautiful ranch and surrounding country. Ultimately for me though it was very much let down by the bad things, chief among them being the absolutely terrible killer who drags everything down into the doldrums.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Blonde jock at pool party: Hits head jumping of a roof into the pool.
2) Jake: Shot with a shotgun.
3) Marlin: Injured by having a gun barrel pushed down her throat and later finished off by being hit in the face with the same weapon.
4) Bird: Slashed across the face in the eye area and then repeatedly stabbed in the back as he crawled away.
5) Red: Shot from a distance as he kissed Chloe in the fields.
6) Chloe: Stabbed by Mandy as she ran away from Emmett who was chasing her in a car.
7) Emmett: Wounded by a shot from Garth's gun and then beaten to death by Mandy at the sick cow slaughter pit. Can't recall what weapon she used, maybe a deadfall tree branch.