Tuesday, August 26, 2008



“There she is, boys. Mandy Lane.
“Untouched, pure. Since the dawn of Junior year, men have tried to possess her, and to date, all have failed. Some have even died in their reckless pursuit of this angel.
“I’ve invited her out to my ranch this weekend… my kingdom.
“So I ask you, gentlemen, am I the sh!t? To which I reply, ‘Yes, I am.’
“But will she come?”

Hidden Palms’ Amber Heard is Mandy Lane, the virginal object of lust for every straight Junior male at her high school, and she’s about to spend the weekend with a bunch of her new friends.
The weekend, however, will turn out to be wilder than anyone bargained for.

Jonathan Levine’s All The Boys Love Mandy Lane is an old school slasher flick, shot in a decidedly modern style by cinematographer Darren Genet.
To successfully meet its slasher credentials, it’s got the rabid, horny teens drinking and doing drugs and having sex (or trying to, at the very least), as well as the steadily rising body count.
That part of All The Boys—and its climactic surprise—is the part that works. Even though I twigged to the “surprise” as early as the tragic prologue that opens the film, it’s still pulled off credibly and with grim conviction in the film’s closing moments.
My biggest problem with All The Boys though (and I’d still have this problem, even if I hadn’t seen the twist coming), is the fact that the majority of the characters are shallow twits who just want to get a good buzz on and squirm into Mandy’s pants.

Other than Mandy (who is, of course, presented as the film’s Last Girl), there are arguably only two other characters who could possibly elicit our sympathy, one of whom is the first to bite the dust, and the other (the ranch hand, Garth, played by Conviction’s Anson Mount) presented as initially suspicious in that brooding, mysterious sort of way; Could he be some psycho cowboy? You may very well ask yourself. (There’s even mention of Garth’s back story to get the audience curious and alerted to the possibility that he could conceivably be effed-up.)
Other than these three, the rest of the characters we’re made to spend the film’s running time with are immature, self-absorbed, and largely obnoxious teens who you honestly don’t mind getting iced.
But that sort of slasher film—where the audience cheers the killer and not the would-be victims—is deservedly dead and gone and I don’t appreciate being tempted into a state of indifference towards a movie’s characters, so much so that I start to ache to see them drop like flies just so I can be relieved of their annoying presence.

As much as I appreciate the climactic swerve the script—written by Jacob Forman—takes, it’s that distinct lack of empathy for a majority of the film’s characters that throws me off about All The Boys.
Would it have been too much to ask that we’d been given a few more characters to care about? I think that would have made the film’s climax even more potent.
Or maybe if even just Chloe (Whitney Able), the resident b!tch, had been given a little more character development, then things may have played out a little better; of the other characters, it’s Chloe whose issues we’re given a glimpse of, but the script sadly doesn’t take it much further than that.

On the plus side, there are good performances all around, particularly from Heard, Mount, and Joan of Arcadia’s Michael Welch (as Mandy’s friend, Emmet).
Here, Welch thankfully makes up for the bad performance he gave in Steve Miner’s Day of the Dead remake.

My misgivings about the characters aside, All The Boys Love Mandy Lane is still a noteworthy modern slasher flick that deserves a look-see, certainly more than many of the recent slasher remakes; Glen Morgan’s Black Christmas and Nelson McCormick’s Prom Night come readily to mind.
And being an original story, All The Boys also has the leg up on any of the recent slasher remakes, even the ones that had some merit.
At the very least, Levine and company are looking forward, instead of taking the Retrograde Express towards creative stagnation the way most of Hollywood seems to be headed.

Parting shot: Welch also has an on-screen reunion with his Joan of Arcadia co-star, Aaron Himelstein, who plays Red, whose family ranch is the setting for All The Boys’ bloody goings-on.

(All The Boys Love Mandy Lane OS courtesy of impawards.com [design by BLT & Associates]; images courtesy of bloody-disgusting.com and beyondhollywood.com.)

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