Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Everyone Kinda Likes Mandy Lane



It's a funny thing being the underdog. One second your audience is rooting for you, the next they're talking shit about you. Much like the fabled Mandy Lane herself, All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006) has been hailed as a slasher classic for the modern era held back by its lingering residence in Distribution Hell.

Released overseas, the film has never been seen in North American and is being held hostage by the Weinstein Company. Well, I got my hands on it. After seeing Drive Angry and loving Amber Heard in that I wanted to see her first lead role as the infamous Mandy Lane. And the result is a confusing disaster. Director Jonathon Levine and screenwriter Jacob Forman try to subvert, destroy and ultimately recreate the slasher genre. The results yield a humourless Heathers rip-off. I've never seen a group characters have less fun in a movie.

In a glossed over prologue, Junior high school student Mandy Lane returns after summer vacation a total hottie. All the boys want to do her and all the girls want to be her friend or give her an eating disorder. The resident jock asshole dies in a very confusing sequence and we flash forward to nine months later. Mandy's still a hottie and a virgin. She joins a group of the popular kids on a weekend away in the country in a secluded cottage. Murders follow.

All The Boys... tries to revitalize the genre by revealing the identity of the killer early on and staking more emotional weight in the conclusion. The complete lack of humor and tension in the film is its real downfall. I liked how they took it to extremes within its constraints of sexuality and drug use almost creating a satire. Almost. The characters are bland and hateful. I found them almost unwatchable and wanted the deaths to come a hell of a lot quicker. And by the time the conclusion rolls around the film has aimed to such levels of symbolism and subversion it's rendered obsolete and kind of meaningless. 

Again, we're coming up against a movie that is reactionary rather than focussing on entertaining and scaring its audience. While I congratulate the filmmakers for their knowledge of the genre, it's nothing that fans don't already know. I liked that Levine tried to create more visual interest on screen than your usual slasher flick but it all winds up looking like an emo art project aka a Death Cab For Cutie music video.

For all that Mandy Lane aspires to be, it's really just a cock tease.

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