All the Boys Love Mandy Lane Review

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, but it is hard to find something for the audiences, save for gore, misogyny and death.

There is an old adage in Hollywood about the producer who clapped at the end of every movie, celebrating the small miracle it took for that film just to be willed into existence. Even then, it’s another herculean challenge to get said movie in front of an audience. Take All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, a horror film produced in 2006, but only this week is having its American theatrical debut. In spite of this mighty and strenuous feat, I doubt anyone out there will ever be clapping. Directed by Jonathan Levine fresh out of film school, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane obviously got its belated release due to the filmmaker that he grew into. The director behind The Wackness, 50/50, and Warm Bodies, he has enjoyed a string of off-center films that mix genres and tones to wilding effect, including the first zombie rom-com (who’d think THAT would work better than recent vampire attempts?). Indeed, it is telling when the studio that originally sold off the distribution rights to Mandy Lane upon seeing the final product, The Weinstein Company, is the same one who re-purchased it this year following Warm Bodies’ success. And despite some impressive visual flourish demonstrated early and often throughout Mandy Lane, this flick’s festering corpse was already cold long before it got shelved seven years ago. The plot, for what little there is, focuses on Mandy Lane (Amber Heard), a stunning Texas beauty whose green eyes have enchanted all the boys of her 11th grade class almost as much as her other ovoid gifts. This tends to give Mandy an effervescent quality that separates her from her peers, including one-time super-childhood BFF Emmet (Michael Welsch), who’s idea of seduction is to convince the smitten and drunk jock with rival eyes to do a full Almost Famous off his rooftop to impress her…too bad there was no way he could reach the swimming pool. Good call on dropping Emmet, Mandy.  Eventually, Mandy is invited by a gang of knife receptacles cool-ish kids to their cabin in the woods. Technically, it’s a house on the plains, but same difference in Texas. I’d list them out, but beyond gender and racial stereotypes, there is nothing to differentiate them. All three boys there do indeed love Mandy Lane and have a competition for her affection while also trading off different sexual favors from the other two girls present, who are in a sidebar quarrel over who has better shaved pubic hair (I am not making that up). And hey, there’s a young Anson Mount as Garth, the groundskeeper with a leering smile for Mandy Lane too! These people cannot die fast enough. Halfway through All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, it occurred to me that this was supposed to be funny. Given its original production timeline, it would have been out just in time to spoof the awful Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006), which itself was a prequel to a remake set in the heartland of the Lone Star state. Also, unlike that eyesore slasher made by Michael Bay pal Jonathan Liebesman, Levine shows a great command over visual composition in Mandy. There are many amusing set-ups around the house of intended slaughter while the meat is being prepped; it appears the movie realizes we know this is cliché. Perhaps that’s why there are a few moments which achieve an intended chuckle like the early high school sequence where Mandy’s perspective is given a first-person “hot girl cam.” Through her eyes, we stare back at all the boys coveting their glimpses lustfully—a bit of Boo Radley medicine for the film’s intended target audience? Unfortunately, most of the knowing set-ups and jokes fall flat. It would be unfair to compare this to last year’s Cabin in the Woods, as that movie was shot several years after Mandy Lane, but similarly the delayed Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon project at least presented its criticism of horror movies being formulaic, predictable, and sexist in a bitingly funny and scintillating way. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane doesn’t so much mock the tropes and insidious gender politics as knowingly accept them. In fact, the movie and its screenplay by Jacob Forman often veers into the most repellently misogynistic horror imagery this side of I Spit On Your Grave. Take the first kill, not counting the pool dive fail, which involves an unseen male assailant shoving the end of his shotgun into a young lady’s mouth until she chokes to death on her own blood. If this was supposed to be a “spoof” on the stereotype, it was about as blithe as that creepy guy on the subway who laughs at his own pick-up lines while clearing out a car. The performances are non-existent beyond Heard and Welsch, the latter of whom does the creepy stalker routine serviceably well. Meanwhile Heard displays that even before she was the next “It Girl” for a few years, she struggled to find the right role in her teens. Not an uncharismatic presence, Heard has a classic movie star allure and likely would have been a godsend to Alfred Hitchcock 60 years ago, but in today’s market that style continues to be displaced—she is also appearing in this weekend’s Machete Kills as eye candy #237.  Beyond his leading lady, Levine shoots a movie with plenty of lovely visuals, which proves in retroactive hindsight why he has been one to watch for outside-the-box genre studio fare as of late. The rolling big blue skies of Texas and endless green, punctuated by pits of mud that inevitably serve as a climax, stand in as an invigorating bacrkdrop that is far more stimulating than the tedious banalities playing out in the fore. Some nice musical selections also help pass what would be an otherwise insufferable 88 minutes. Ultimately, Mandy Lane has a few comely enticements on the very, very surface level. But once you get to truly know the real personality underneath, you’ll find an ugly, gratuitous, and just all around nasty presence not worth spending a whole lot of time with. All the boys may love Mandy Lane, but not a single audience member will. Den of Geek Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars


1 out of 5