Retro Reviews: ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE (2006){0}

Way back in September of 2006 I reviewed the rather impressive horror film called All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. It has never opened in America. Until this month, that is! Radius/TWC has finally rescued this darkly amusing little indie from financial nightmare limbo (it’s a long and boring story, believe me) and you can finally see it for yourself. With the new release in mind, I went back and spruced up my ancient review for you FEARnet freaks:

First-time writer/director team Jacob Forman and John Levine obviously grew up knee-deep in Halloweens, Friday the 13ths, and probably a hundred other slasher flicks, because their All the Boys Love Mandy Lane works as both a spooky, gory homage and as a deconstruction of the age-old “dead teenager movie” stereotypes. (Deconstruction or perhaps destruction. You can choose.)

As the film’s title clearly indicates, all the boys really do love Mandy Lane. She’s sweet, she’s sexy, she’s stacked, and she’s weirdly nice to everyone. The gal’s popularity crosses all the high school demographics, and she acquits herself in a chaste-yet-jiggly fashion. So when Mandy is invited to a weekend getaway with a quintet of typically one-note schoolmates, she figures it’ll be a good opportunity to be accepted as a “normal gal” — as opposed to a “figure of perfection.”

Suffice to say that things don’t exactly work out that way. Saddled with a crew that includes a jock, a stoner, a slut, a bitch, and a horny jerk, Mandy slowly begins to realize that she doesn’t have much in common with her hard-drinking, pot-smoking, coke-snorting, sex-lovin’ classmates. And then, of course, a mystery guest pops up and starts slashing everyone to ribbons.

Taken as a straight-faced and enjoyably grim throwback to the halcyon days of mid-’80s slasher-dom, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane works exceedingly well. But since those flicks weren’t exactly swimming in character development, depth, or subtext, Forman & Levine have decided to play with the rules that we gorehounds know so well. There’s some solid humor to be found in the flick, but don’t let that fool you: Mandy Lane is true-blue horror all the way. It’s alarmingly dry, sly, and insightful as well, sort of like a slasher flick version of The Last Picture Show.

The filmmakers are supported by a surprisingly strong cast, and leading lady Amber Heard is the doe-eyed anchor in a sea of devilry, debauchery, and death. Her co-stars do a fine job of bringing the typical stereotypes to life, each with their own small semblance of wit, color, or humanity. Hell, you might actually care when some of these victims meet their shrieking demise. And how often does that happen in a slasher flick?

Bringing a quietly artistic taste of teen-aged sexual politics to a sub-genre that’s generally disinterested in anything resembling brains, wit, or subtext, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is what we might actually call a “thinking man’s slasher flick.” Hell, it might just be the first one ever.

Plus the last ten minutes are icky, intense, and certifiably insane.