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Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.73%
Worth A Look38.64%
Average: 4.55%
Pretty Bad: 18.18%
Total Crap: 15.91%

5 reviews, 14 user ratings

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All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Jay Seaver

"An why wouldn't they?"
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2008 FANTASIA FESTIVAL: There is a lot of crap in the "slasher" subgenre, enough so that a person can be reasonably forgiven for giving the entire thing a pass because the occasional gem is not worth the vast mountains of poorly made movies that camouflage it. The occasional gem like "Mandy Lane" argues against that position, so of course it's stayed hidden for two years.

Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) really blossomed the summer before her junior year, and as it starts, really doesn't seem comfortable with all the new attention, and still tends to hang out with her far less popular friend Emmet (Michael Welch). At a pool party, jocky host Dylan (Adam Powell) constantly hits on Mandy and harasses Emmet, and after both have had a little too much to drink, Emmet goads Dylan into something foolish and shocking. Jump forward nine months, and Mandy and Emmet are no longer friends. She's still the good girl among the people she hangs out with - cheerleaders Chloe (Whitney Able) and Marlin (Melissa Price), rich kid Red (Aaron Himelstein), and athletes Bird (Adiwn Hodge) and Jake (Luke Grimes). They're going to spend the weekend at Red's family's ranch, with only hand Garth (Anson Mount) to supervise. Mandy still does tend to attract unwanted attention, though...

It may not seem like writer Jacob Forman has done anything particularly special here at first glance. He seems to have a better handle on how teenagers actually act than many others - the characters aren't self-referential constructs like in the Scream movies or lazy stereotypes - but that's not completely unusual. What he does is to rebuild the genre from the ground up, letting us see the killer's face much earlier than is typical and giving us some idea of his or her motives, although there are still a few complications to make the end more interesting. This doesn't seem like much, but for so long it seems as though there have just been a couple basic paths these movies could go down (bloody whodunit and gimmick killer, or some combination of the two) that playing up the characters rather than the mechanics seems downright revolutionary.

And they are interesting characters, well worth watching. Amber Heard is gorgeous as Mandy, of course, but she also seems to have managed to stay genuinely nice without seeming judgmental about those who are less so than her. Michael Welch is memorable as a kid who can pinpoint the exact moment he lost his best friend, and can help but try to climb back into her good graces. Whitney Able makes Chloe someone who doesn't realize that she's always competing, even when she thinks she's trying to be a good friend, and Melissa Price sells us Marlin as someone who both picks up bad habits from and has her self-esteem constantly assaulted by her best friend. Edwin Hodge and Luke Grimes both play into certain jock stereotypes, but manage to make them both individuals. Aaron Himelstein does a very nice job of puffing Red up and also showing how precarious his hold on it can be. The only character, really, who feels perfunctory is Anson Mount's Garth, who seems too good to be true (though the film plays with that, with a scene where every attempt by Red to make Garth seem flawed just makes Chloe more infatuated).

Director Jonathan Levine puts together the movie surprisingly well, even considering all the good pieces he has to work with. He's got a nice knack for letting a moment unfold, or leaving a threat in the background long enough that, even after the initial shock of seeing it, we kind of forget about it a little, thus getting us two jumps for the price of one. He stages action very well, too, and avoids the tendency to make murder fun, rather than horrifying.

I suspect he's working with a lot of below-the-line people that will soon be moving up to more high-profile gigs, because this is a technically really impressive picture. Sure, no-one goes to see a movie based on sound editing, but part of why a hardened slasher-film audience gasped rather than giggled at the deaths is things like just how ugly someone's head getting bashed in sounds. The cinematography is very nice, too, capturing both bright colors and grimy browns very well, occasionally seeming to drift just a bit out of focus at times when haziness works. The movie doesn't looks stylized at all, but also doesn't look slick and sharp and digital as many other contemporary horror movies do.

And that's the sort of attention to detail that makes "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane" a cut above most other slashers; it's a crying shame that it's taken so long to come out.

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originally posted: 07/14/08 01:09:10
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2006 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 Fantasia Film Festiva For more in the 2008 Fantasia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Chicago Critics Film Festival For more in the 1st Annual Chicago Critics Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Stanley Film Festival For more in the 2013 Stanley Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/24/13 Molly I enjoyed it quite thoroughly. I liked the way it was filmed especially. 4 stars
11/21/10 Ryan One Of The Best Slasher Horrors I Have Ever Seen! It's Smart, It's Funny, It's Brilliant! 5 stars
7/20/09 Kazelwws Hi webmaster! lpy 4 stars
3/13/09 vxtq OK, but nothing to write home about. It takes to long to go anywhere 3 stars
2/22/09 Harold Parker This movie sucked ! Don't waste your time and money. Horribly shot. 1 stars
2/12/09 MP Bartley Dull for most parts. The ending is interesting but silly when you think too hard about it. 2 stars
2/11/09 DK Well made, well shot and with more intelligence than average slasher 4 stars
9/12/08 DW Smith And I was so looking forward to it. 3 stars
8/06/08 E K Zimmerman Meh - below average teen horror junk. 2 stars
7/12/08 Laura Lots of too! 5 stars
10/01/06 duder saw in toronto at the fest. loved it. 4 stars
9/15/06 Emmet It f-ing killed. awesome. 5 stars
9/14/06 Carl Smart, funny and scary! Best slasher flick since Scream. 5 stars
9/13/06 Edward Connell A must see movie spectacular 4 stars
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  11-Oct-2013 (R)
  DVD: 03-Dec-2013

  15-Feb-2008 (18)

  05-Mar-2009 (MA)

Directed by
  Jonathan Levine

Written by
  Jacob Forman

  Amber Heard
  Anson Mount
  Michael Welch
  Aaron Himelstein
  Edwin Hodge
  Whitney Able

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