Sunday, October 11, 2015

31 Days of Halloween 2015: All the Boys Love Mandy Lane

2006, Jonathan Levine (50/50, Warm Bodies) -- Netflix

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is an odd duck film, a movie made in 2006, did the film circuit around 2008 but due to complications with its distributors and luke warm appeal here in North America, didn't receive wider release until 2013, after Levine had done 50/50. So when most people are familiar with his cancer buddy story, Warm Bodies, the zombie romantic comedy must have seemed like an odd next choice.

So, his first real full length feature was supposed to be a horror movie acting as an expose on horror movie tropes, not quite Cabin in the Woods, but left of centre of the genre.

Aggh; I hate that almost every movie I am viewing this season is of the "its not a bad movie, but there is nothing great about it" ilk. Sure, I already admitted that we have already seen the best horror movies of 2014/2015 in non-October months, but there should be better out there. I guess we are just not finding them.

Don't get me wrong; I liked Mandy, I just didn't find it wonderful. It is an atmospheric, decidedly non-genre take on the teen slasher movie. I often felt I was watching a more inciteful look into teen life, the popular kids vs the non-popular ones, the rampant promiscuity vs the virginal, except, well except that there wasn't a lot of real incite. The dialogue & plot structure was most definitely standard teen slasher, but it skewed the usual with the style of shots, long and hazy, wonderful camera work. And with the music, shelving the eerie tension announcing soundtrack for late 90s rock music and out of time covers. Timelessness also contributed a definitive element where only the cars and the lack of smartphones defined the movie as being most definitely not current, but maybe really, actually 2003, the era when it was first written?

Oh yeah, what is it about?

Mandy Lane is the weird girl blooming midway through high school. This was Amber Heard before she came out, before she married Johnny Deppe. Blonde, curvy, with an etheric beauty, she is presented as the unsullied lovely whom all the boys want, but none have had. Marmy asked me if she is actually awe inspiring, and while I said no, I understand what they were presenting. Every school had that popular blonde who rode the line between popular and innocent and always seemed to have perfect beams of sun backlighting her.

Mandy used to be friends with the school weirdo, until an unfortunate party accident ended that. Now, months later it is the weekend party in the country, just past the last gas station (sans The Harbinger) on an absolutely lovely isolated ranch. Each of the boys attending intend on having their way with Mandy, despite the more than willing girls already in attendance. Probably in spite of.

Are you surprised if I say someone starts picking them off?


You don't like any of these popular kids, not even the likable one, so you don't mourn their deaths. And its not about creative murder, like so many others, but more about the proper why of the slashing. And when it all spins down to the inevitable end, we are only mildly surprised.  What did surprise is how well Amber Heard pulls it off. Doing an entire 180 from quiet, demure Mandy to knife fondling, girlfriend gutting murderous Mandy is not shocking but entirely convincing.

Her manipulated little weirdo "just friends" boy wants to be the latest spree killer in the news but not if she has her way. Its the dead cow pit for him. And why she does all of this is never explained, leaving Mandy as the perfect sociopath, having punished the kids that deserve punishment (but no, not death) and driving off into the sunset with the last surviving boy whom Mandy shouldn't want. But...