All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (Levine, 2006)

 

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It took a long time for this little indie slasher to be available to everyone. Released in the 2006 at some festivals and in 2008 in UK, it’s only now when it got its release in the US and became available on streaming services.
All The Boys Love Mandy Lane stars Amber Heard in her first leading role as a the title character, a quiet girl in her junior year at a high school in Texas. It’s the start of the school year, over the summer she developed physically in a very noticeable way and she gets a lot of attention from her male classmates. However, she is not part of the popular group, her closest friend being Emmet, a boy who has always been treated badly by these kids. Several months after an unfortunate incident at a party which Mandy and Emmet attended, Mandy, now a part of the popular group and ignoring Emmet, is invited on a ranch farm with her new friends.

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Mandy Lane is presented as the ultimate challenge for the boys. She is very reserved and always refuses the boys’ overtures. She has an aura of innocence and mystery that makes her male classmates go crazy over her. It’s also how the director presents and observes Mandy. I loved when she is introduced to one of the characters and she presents herself as Mandy Lane, not Mandy, but Mandy Lane. I liked how the director idealized this mysterious character, a symbol of sexual desire and danger. All of this leads to a message at the end  where it all makes sense. I quite liked that.
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The characters are very one-note as in every slasher film, we have the promiscuous girls, the teenage boys filled with hormones, each of them trying to seduce Mandy into sleeping with them. The character of Mandy Lane isn’t written in a thorough way either, we don’t know much about her, only that she is very shy and I felt I didn’t know who this character really was only up until the end. That was not a very big problem, as I said before the way she was presented made sense at the end. At least for me.
Amber Heard was pretty great as Mandy. I haven’t seen a lot of films with her, except for her small role in Zombieland so I don’t have nothing to compare the role to. I never viewed her as a great actress, she is a really gorgeous woman and these beautiful actresses are never viewed as very talented, but I liked what she did here. She captured the innocence and mystery of Mandy Lane that I’ve talked about before.
What I appreciated a lot about this film was its look which reminds me of Malick’s Badlands. The Texas country side is presented beautifully in here, there are some really gorgeous shots and a slasher film shouldn’t look this beautiful but All The Boys Love Mandy Lane manages to be an exception. It’s very stylish and I congratulate the director for focusing on the visuals and giving us a beautifully shot horror film.
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I also have to say a few words about the great soundtrack. The country songs at the beginning were very well used. They didn’t build up a tension, they just made the scenes more beautiful. You wouldn’t guess you were watching a horror film by viewing those scenes. I also love when old pop songs are used in film. The song at the end of the film, Sealed it with a Kiss from Bobby Vinton, is so cleverly used. For a slasher film, it’s an unique way for an ending and I liked how they used the song to capture the mystery surrounding Mandy Lane.
Now I don’t want to mislead people, as I said only good things about this film. It’s not a great film overall, but for a slasher, it’s pretty clever because it made a point at the end, although I don’t know how many will figure it out. Its style and soundtrack also distance the film from the generic Jason/Freddy Krueger/Texas Chainsaw flicks we keep getting. But I have to point out that it’s quite predictable.
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The audience is very experienced nowadays and they are very hard to shock and amaze, especially in a genre like horror that is so badly regarded by film fans nowadays . So yes, the thing that is supposed to amaze us doesn’t. But I was fine with it. Also, the characters are pretty stupid. I didn’t understand why they didn’t have cellphones. There were some parts that weren’t thought out well enough. Basically, it’s not as clever and original as it could have been, which is a shame.
Still, All The Boys Love Mandy Lane proved to be a surprisingly decent film. A film about how dangerous women can be and how crazy men can go in pursuing them.
C+
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