A group of high-schoolers invite Mandy Lane, a good girl who became quite hot over the summer, to a weekend party on a secluded ranch. While the festivities rage on, the number of revelers begins to drop quite mysteriously.
A film getting some good buzz at the moment is the zombie film Warm Bodies, which is out in February and stars Nicholas Hoult and John Malkovich amongst others. The director of that, Jonathan Levine, actually cut his teeth with his directorial debut and todays review All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. It’s a film I have been wanting to review for a while, and now seems as good a time as any.
Originally finished in 2006, the film premiered at a number of film festivals throughout 2006 and 2007, but didn’t receive a theatrical release until February 2008 in the United Kingdom, and was never even released in the United States.
The movie stars Amber Heard as Mandy Lane, an unattainable teenage beauty. 9 months after a fellow student is killed trying to impress Mandy by jumping off the roof of a house (as you do……..) she finally relents and agrees to try and move on by having some fun. She agrees to go on a weekend trip with her popular new friends.
Her friends are the usual cliché of American students with terrible teenage issues and problems. The geek, the hot girls, the hot guys, the love triangles and mix all this with alcohol, drugs and teenage hormones and you have yourself one hell of a weekend getaway.
We have Mandy’s best friend, Emmet (Michael Welch), Red (Aaron Himelstein) who is hosting the party at his father’s ranch, Chloe (Whitney Able), Bird (Edwin Hodge), the ranch hand Garth (Anson Mount), Jake (Luke Grimes) and his girlfriend, Marlin (Melissa Price). To make things exciting, we also have ourselves a mysterious killer who shows up on the ranch and begins brutally killing off the teens one by one.
I have to say that I really enjoyed All the Boys Loved Mandy Lane. And I may have been one of those boys in love with Mandy Lane………she really nails the siren role here perfectly. The unattainable, perfect female creation who knows exactly what all the guys she has ever met wants from her but refuses to give in to any of them. Classy girl. Amber Heard is fantastic in this role, but credit must go to the whole cast as they all pull their weight and it makes the film work so well. Apparently a lot of the dialogue was improvised, and it came across as it should, just a group of friends casually chatting and having real conversations. And a bit of sex….. :)
For the first half of the movie anyway. Once we hit the second half, we are shown a few secrets and the film kicks it up a few gears. Action, blood, violence and scares, nothing is spared here. There are some very interesting and inventive kills, and the order of deaths is totally unpredictable. All good things as far as a horror movie should play out. Visually it looked stunning, some really cool colourful shots mixed with some old-looking faded moments, it really did mix things up and hats off to the director for making something so beautiful on such a low-budget.
It was at times very reminiscent of the good 70’s & 80’s slasher films, with a simple premise of a hidden killer stalking some teenagers, and whilst we get so many poor imitation movies in this beloved genre, Mandy Lane is head and shoulders above the others. I am gutted more people haven’t seen this movie, it really deserves to have hit a wider audience. It is clever, beautiful to look at (I don’t just mean Amber Heard, but mainly her!) and has an excellent ending, which really did surprise me in a good way! I always love a good twist ending, and this certainly had one. If you do have the chance to see Mandy Lane, I urge you to spend some time with her and give it a watch! Ideally without googling it, just take my word for it ;) There are lots of spoilers around the web, even some images, so I have tried my best to entice you without spoiling anything. Enjoy!
Since I love a good bit of trivia & conspiracy, I thought I would just share this one as I sign off.
Local legend has it that John Wilkes Booth evaded capture in Virginia after his assassination of Abraham Lincoln and was the caretaker on the ranch property. He told the property owners his true identity as he was dying. They buried him in an unmarked grave next to the oak tree which Mandy Lane walks by to see Garth.