Thursday, October 10, 2013

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (2013)(Spoiler Review)

**This review contains spoilers**

First, there’s an interesting backstory for this film. All The Boys Love Mandy Lane was on the shelf for over six years. The film was completed in 2006, and ATLBLML premiered at various film festivals in 2006 and 2007. The Weinstein Company bought the rights to ATBLML, but they didn’t know what to do with it, so they sold the rights to Senator Entertainment, a company that eventually went bankrupt. Earlier this year, The Weinstein Company reacquired the rights to ATBLML. The film received various VOD releases in September, and tomorrow, ATBLML hits theaters for a limited release. Now, on to the review! 

During the summer in Texas, Dylan (Adam Powell) invites Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) to a pool party at his house. Reluctantly, Dylan allows Mandy to bring her nerdy best friend, Emmet (Michael Welch) to the party. Mandy is the last of a dying breed at high school. She’s the hottest girl in school, and Mandy is still drug free, alcohol free, and without a boyfriend, so Dylan sees the perfect opportunity to make his move on Mandy.

At the party, Emmet pushes a drunk Dylan to jump off the roof of his house with him, and into the pool. But the risky stunt to impress Mandy ends in tragedy, when Emmet pulls back to stay on the roof at the last second. Dylan jumps, he misses the pool by a few inches, and the back of Dylan’s head hits the concrete.

Nine months after Dylan’s death, Mandy’s still holding a grudge against Emmet. After joining a new circle of friends, Mandy is invited to a weekend vacation on Red’s (Aaron Himlstein ) ranch by Chloe (Whitney Able). Red, Chloe, Jake (Luke Grimes), Bird (Edwin Hodge), and Marlin (Melissa Price) focus their efforts on Mandy, as they launch a mission to break Mandy out of her shell. With the ranch hand Garth (Anson Mount) watching over them, the kids try to enjoy a peaceful weekend. But having some harmless fun takes a backseat to bigger problems after a string of random disappearances, and the sighting of a stalker……

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane is a frustrating film for a number of reasons. First of all, don’t let the mysterious ambiguity of the trailer fool you: Mandy Lane barely rises above average quality for any run-of-the-mill slasher flick. With the obvious foreshadowing, you’ll be able to tell Emmet is the killer, who’s stalking everyone at the ranch, instantly. At first, you’ll just see this creepy guy in a hoody, and they don’t actually show Emmet’s face until the tail end of the film. Still, it’s so obvious Emmet is the killer.

The characters? Yeah, Mandy Lane is loaded with the typical bunch in a teen slasher film: the airheaded blonde, who falls down a lot while running (Chloe), the jock (Bird), that one guy, who’s a dick to everyone (Jake), and that one person, who’s not the sharpest tool in the shed (Marlin). Of course, Mandy breaks the mold, as the innocent and beautiful blonde, who doesn’t crack under peer pressure. Mandy is uncorrupted for the most part, but the direction for her character takes a surprising turn towards the end (more on that later).

The story? Well, it bored me to tears, until the finale rolled around. Red, Bird, and Jake compete against one another for the honor of being the first one to have sex with Mandy. Sorry, but watching a bunch of horny male teenagers fight over and stab each other in the back for Mandy didn’t do anything for me.

But Mandy Lane deserves credit for two shocking twists during the finale. So Chloe is being chased by Emmet in a car. Mandy’s standing on the other side of the field with a knife in her hand, and as Chloe runs into Mandy’s open arms for safety, Mandy stabs her in the chest. Here, it’ revealed Emmet and Mandy worked together as a team to kill everyone on the ranch.

With Chloe dead, Emmet pulls out two suicide  pills. The final stage of the plan involves Emmet and Mandy dying together…..but Mandy double crosses Emmet at the last second, when a wounded Garth returns. Funny how Garth is still alive, because before this scene, Garth was shot in the chest, AND during the struggle with Emmet, Emmet stabs Garth with his machete three or four times. And somehow Garth makes it out alive? If his last name was Myers or Voorhees, I wouldn’t have a problem with invincibility, but that’s not the case here. Anyway, with Garth’s help, Mandy is able to kill Emmet, and as Mandy and Garth are driving away together, Garth praises Mandy for being the savior.

The series of twists at the end really saved Mandy Lane from mediocre status. Throughout the film, you’re lead to believe Emmet is killing off everyone (including any witnesses), who’s trying to get close to Mandy, because Emmet believes he should be Mandy’s “first.” After years and years of paying his dues in the infamous friend zone, Emmet developed an unnatural obsession for Mandy. This obsession drove him to madness, so he decided to go on a killing spree for Mandy.

I love the diabolical ending, with a devious Mandy escaping the massacre, and maintaining her reputation as the pure and untarnished “good girl.” Plus, before the credits start rolling, ATBLML replays footage from the scene with Mandy and everyone else at the gas station. During the replay, there’s a pause to show one final shot of Mandy looking at the camera with this evil look in her eyes. It’s a chilling shot in retrospect, because you would never believe someone like Mandy is capable of killing.

The cinematography is gorgeous, and director Johnathan Levine provides some great shots of an empty countryside. Still, All The Boys Love Mandy Lane could’ve been so much more. With Mandy Lane, you had the perfect character to take a chance on doing something different. Instead, you’ll have to sit through another slasher flick, where some creepy weirdo stalks a bunch of unsuspecting victims in a house.

On top of that, ATBLML is loaded with clichéd slasher characters, overall the gore and blood isn’t shocking or grotesque (the scene where Emmet uses his machete to slice open Bird’s eyes is really nasty, but that’s about it), the entire cast is average at best (yes, that includes Heard), and ATBLML features one too many stupid “Why would you do that?” moments.

Yeah, the twists are great, but without them, ATBLML is another random and forgettable slasher. I wouldn’t be surprised if ATBLML developed a cult-classic fan following over the years, and despite all my complaints, I actually enjoyed the movie. I appreciated  the effort to take a “throwback to Grindhouse films” approach, but ATBLML isn’t a groundbreaking horror film, and it won’t change the landscape in the slasher genre, so don‘t get your hopes up too high for this one. And it’s a damn shame, because ATBLML had the potential  to be that one film.

Rating: 6/10

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