Seven years after being completed (seven years after dealing with distribution drama), All the Boys Love Mandy Lane has reached the United States. This film was Jonathan Levine’s (50/50, Warm Bodies) first, and was born out of a film school thesis project from screenwriter Jacob Forman. Not even one-third of the way into the film, this is eminently apparent; yet that doesn’t distract from what the film has to offer (especially if you went to film school).
As the title suggests, all the boys in high school (and even the odd cowboy/ex-soldier) love Mandy Lane (Amber Heard). Their adoration is seemingly new, since most of the boys already have a girl on their arm; but Mandy doesn’t seem to mind the attention. She’s been comfortable with her b-list life with best friend Emmett (Michael Welch). But that doesn’t stop her from dragging her quiet, insecure friend along to a party with the popular kids.
The pool party ends horrifically when Emmett manipulates the drunk, blond jock (Adam Powell) to jump into the pool from the roof, cracking his skull open in the process. From there, it seems Mandy’s popularity rises as Emmett’s plummets. Nine months later she’s invited to Red’s (Aaron Himelstein) ranch for a debaucherous weekend with pretty boy Jake (Luke Grimes), Jake’s “fat” girlfriend Marlin (Melissa Price), blonde bimbo Chloe (Whitney Able), and token black guy Bird (Edwin Hodge). All the boys have intentions of taking Mandy’s maidenhood this weekend, but when ranch hand Garth (Anson Mount) shows up, you can see her lust and inhibitions go right out the window.
But Mandy Lane is not some high school romantic comedy as the opening credits hint at. This is a horror film, and a killer is quickly knocking off the kids at the ranch. But the killer’s identity isn’t obscured from the viewer for too long (just enough to give you a chance to guess it) while still delivering some plot twists out of left field at the end. The film emulates 70s horror movies in a gritty, enjoyable way (with delightfully awful dialogue) and avoids the explicit gore we have grown so accustomed to in our current horror fodder. Levine doesn’t aim for greatness in Mandy Lane, but simply provides us a throwback to the grindhouse era seen through a millenial’s eyes.
This belated Blu-ray contains a great commentary track by Levine recorded seven years after he last saw the film.
"All the Boys Love Mandy Lane" is on sale December 3, 2013 and is rated R. Horror. Directed by Jonathan Levine. Written by Jacob Forman. Starring Amber Heard, Anson Mount, Michael Welch.