Mandy Lane: She Knows What Boys Like, She Knows What Guys Want
Main Cast: Amber Heard
Director: Jonathan Levine
I had been hearing about this movie here and there for years. Filmed in 2006, it wasn’t given a wide US release until late 2013 due to the distributor going bankrupt. But I kept seeing the title in various horror articles over the years so when I saw it was on Netflix I instantly added it to my queue. Then I sat on it for a few months before finally watching it. I’m not sure why I waited, when I had wanted to see it so badly. Then again, before it hit Netflix I had no idea what it was about. Afterward I was able to see the trailer and realized, oh, it’s a slasher movie. Okay, cool, I’ll get around to it.
I was right to wait. Or at least, I was right not to dive in, expecting great and miraculous things. Because truth is, it IS just a slasher movie. And not a very interesting one. In 90 minutes, it’s about 38 minutes in–7 minutes shy of the halfway mark–before the first killing. And while it doesn’t take long for the bodies to start piling up after that, none of them are done in as interesting a fashion as the first one. In fact, a simple gunshot or stabbing seems to suffice. Boring.
The story focuses on Mandy Lane (Amber Heard, The Ward), a quiet girl in high school who, apparently, blossomed over the summer so now all the boys are finally noticing her. She gets invited to a ranch for the weekend with two other girls and three boys, Marlin (Melissa Price, RUNE), Chloe (Whitney Able, Monsters), Jake (Luke Grimes, Taken 2), Bird (Edwin Hodge, Red Dawn), and Red (Aaron Himelstein, Austin Powers in Goldmember). It’s Red’s dad’s ranch, but, wouldn’t you know it, they’ve got the place all to themselves. Except for Garth (Anson Mount, “Hell On Wheels”), the ranch hand.
Naturally, all the boys want to use this weekend as their chance to unvirginate the lovely Ms. Lane. Mandy, however, is just trying to make some friends, for the first time in her quiet and meek little life.
And while things aren’t necessarily going well (none of the boys can make any headway with Mandy, while Mandy obviously feels shy and slightly out of place), things are at least going. The beer is flowing, the doobs are blazing, the pills are popping. But as the night wears on, one by one the stragglers get picked off and wind up out in the field, while the rest of the group seems not the least bit worried that their numbers are dwindling.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is a decent enough movie. It’s well-made, the production value is high for such a small budget, and the actors all make you hate them. Okay, that might not have been their goal, but not one of these characters was designed to be sympathetic, at least not in my eyes. None of them do anything overly unforgivable, I just think they had no redeeming qualities. Granted, they were drunken arrogant high school kids who think they’re never going to die so maybe they weren’t supposed to have any redeeming qualities, but, jeez, when the cast is dropping like flies, I think the audience is supposed to care about at least one or two of them, even if only on a very basic level as human beings.
These guys, however, I couldn’t have cared less who bought it first as long as they all, in end, took a dirt nap. In a movie like this there’s usually that one obnoxious character you hope bites it first, but in this movie it really didn’t matter; they were all annoying.
I appreciated that they didn’t feel the need to hide the killer’s identity for too long. It seemed pretty obvious early on who was to blame, so it was nice to have that confirmed so I could get back to trying to lose myself in the movie as opposed to trying to guess at who was behind the machete. However, the answer to that particular question, while answered early enough, wasn’t exactly a shocking revelation, nor was it all that satisfactory an answer. Try to give us SOME kind of surprise, will you? And, no, that ending doesn’t count as a surprise. To be a surprise, it has to actually be unexpected.
It’s not that All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is a bad movie, it just wasn’t a very good one. And hearing about it for almost 8 years, I guess my expectations surrounding this mysterious horror movie that kept getting mentioned even though it wasn’t available anywhere just exceeded the movie’s potential. I doubt there was anything it could have done to live up to what I started to believe it was, anyway.
Well, at least the director Jonathan Levine got something of a career out of it, going on to direct 50/50 and Warm Bodies.
I don’t know, I just don’t see why this movie kept getting talked about when it’s really nothing special at all. And that’s from someone who WANTED it to be special. I wanted to be blown away. I wanted to be able to rave about it. But, seriously, it’s just sort of a “who cares” movie. I’ve seen it. Okay, that’s done. What’s next?