FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Jul 11, 2007

with good reason

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is a film that's quietly been generating buzz for a few weeks now...but not Snakes on a Plane overhype buzz, and not "Omigod, Rob Zombie farted on the set of Halloween today...we'd totally better post another news item!" super-saturating buzz. It's been a sort of subtle thing, as if horror fans everywhere had the same thought after viewing the trailer: "Hey, this might actually be good. Wouldn't that be swell? Don't make any sudden noises or movements- you'll scare it away! Fingers crossed for Mandy Lane"

I caught a sneak peek advanced screening of the film yesterday and yeah, my ever-optimistic hopes were high. Nine times out of ten, this optimism proves unwarranted as I shuffle out of the theatre (or...you know, off the couch) slowly shaking my head, the highest compliments coming to mind for the crapfest I'd just witnessed being "I've seen worse", followed by "Well, maybe the next movie will be good". Imagine my surprise then, about 20 minutes into Mandy Lane when I found myself enjoying the damn thing. I almost had a coronary when it was over and I wasn't disappointed. It felt so...so...unnatural and naughty, liking a new horror movie like that.
Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company, 2007. Photographer: Mike Osborne

Amber Heard stars as the titular Mandy Lane, a not-particularly remarkable girl who becomes the center of attention when, over one magical summer vacation, she "gets hot". Suddenly everyone in school is interested in Mandy: the boys want to get in her as-yet unsullied pants and all the girls want to be her friend; Mandy becomes popular by saying nary a word.

Red (Aaron Himelstein) invites Mandy and a small group of friends out to his family's ranch for a weekend of activity typical of the slasher subgenre: beer, drugs, and sex. During the course of the debauchery, each guy tries his best to get with Mandy...soon enough, the bodies begin to pile up. Who loves Mandy enough to kill to be alone with her? Will anyone survive the weekend? How much ritalin can a teenager snort in 24 hours?

Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company, 2007. Photographer: Mike Osborne

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is remarkable in that it's a throwback to a classic '80s-era slasher film- right down to the perfect title placard, which would be at home on one of those oversized VHS boxes- but it has an absolutely contemporary sensibility. Director Jonathan Levine and writer Jacob Forman achieve this rare feat by...wait for it...treating their subject matter seriously. That's not to say Mandy Lane is a straight-faced affair, because it isn't. There's ample humor found throughout the film (actual funny humor, gasp), but the humor is organic to the script. It's not a post-Scream nauseatingly self-referential flick, and you never feel as if the filmmakers are winking at you and poking you in the ribs. Mandy Lane gets back to the roots of the slasher film and it's refreshing.

The cinematography is gorgeous: this is the dry, spare, sun-baked Texas of Tobe Hooper's Chain Saw. Though the killer is revealed fairly early in the proceedings, the ample tension in the film doesn't let up until the credits roll. The characters are well-drawn and likable. When the killings come, they're brutal and bloody- enough so to make me wince- but your mind fills in the disturbing blanks. All the pieces for this film simply fall into line: right down to the kickass soundtrack (The Go-Gos? Yes, please), Mandy Lane feels like a labor of love, and that's what makes it successful.

My only negative comment about All the Boys Love Mandy Lane has to do with the ending, which felt a bit...forced. I felt the film could have been more by being a little less, if you know what I mean. On the whole however, it's undoubtedly a high-water mark for the post-Scream slasher film. Check it out when it's released nationwide on July 20. Hmm. It seems the release date has been changed but a new date hasn't been established yet. I'll update this when I know something.

Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company, 2007. Photographer: Mike Osborne

19 comments:

Bill Walsh said...

Wait a second. Move to the West Coast. Start going to super-top-double-secret horror movie previews... it's all starting to make sense...

ZOMG111111 Stacie's got herself her own movie-production company and is working on reviving the slasher flick!!!!! And, of course, the spelunker flick!!!!!

(Let's see how that rumor spreads...)

Bill Walsh said...

Also, the Go-Gos? Hell, yeah.

Mariana said...

I love the premise! I can't wait to see this film.

Theron said...

I've heard positive, though vague, things about this flick for a couple of months now. Now, I've heard it from someone I trust: Stacie "Tinseltown" Ponder.

Stacie Ponder said...

Shh, Bill...you're revealing my masterplan. I sent myself west as a sort of emissary to rejuvenate the horror industry. I hope to achieve this lofty goal by continuing to...yes, you guessed it...write for my own blog! :D

I really dug this film, particularly the lead character. Yay, good new horror!

Sad man said...

So glad you loved it. I can't wait to see this. It's my most anticipated horror movie of the year. Screw Rob Zombie.

Amanda By Night said...

I'm looking forward to seeing this.

You rule Stacie being all cool and shit.

btw, this movie will pale in comparison to Slaughter High and Final Exam... Just sayin'...

Patrick said...

I went to high school with Amber Heard. This is a bizarre worlds-crossing moment for me.

This screened at the SXSW Film Festival in the spring, during their midnight programming, and I was tempted to go see it but never got around to it. I'm glad it's been picked up -- I'm pretty wary of the slasher genre these days, but if nothing else that whole "sun-baked Texas cinematography" thing that Stacie referred to is very alluring to me.

Cinebeats said...

You've got me interested in seeing this!

Sad man said...

BTW, the international trailer is way superior to the domestic one.

JA said...

Stacie, where did you see the relase date change? On IMDb it's still listed for next weekend for "limited" release, which works fine for me in NYC as long as thats still the truth. I'm dying to see it!

Stacie Ponder said...

Hey JA-

I got an email from the Weinstein Company to the effect that the film won't be released on the 20th and the new date is TBA. I guess not all sites have caught up...?

I'm on the cutting edge!

Goose said...

If the trailer is any count and of course your glowing recommendation, this looks like it may be worth the price of a movie ticket.
Thanks for the inside info.

JA said...

Gah ! I HATE THE WEINSTEINS!!!!!!! Why do they even bother continually buying horror movies, when they don't give them any respect at all??? Infuriating, tis.

Jakey said...

Tired of waiting for this to be released, I bought the British Blu-ray version from Amazon UK mostly on the strength of your review (Strangers On The Internet Respect Your Opinion!)...and yep, it is a new horror movie that's actually good! And I liked the ending better than you did, even. Totally worth it.

(For anyone else interested, the Blu-ray is region free and will play in any player no matter where you live, though the extras may not. If reading that makes you think "oh, an import Blu-ray, well la di dah, Your Majesty" and you have to wait for the Weinsteins to finally release it this July (maybe), I feel your pain.)

Anonymous said...

I loved it !! in fact in Mexico it was released on february and at the beginning I must admit it didn't get my attention that much but when I saw it I honestly loved it !!

xoxo

Tom said...

It's weird that it's not new but they're releasing it now after like 7 years. Love that girl though, so it'll give me a reason to go to the theater.

Greg Vowell said...

Anyone know the song that starts right after the cheerleader scene in the trailer? Sounds like a girl group, but not the Go Gos. Sounds like "Hands when we want to....Party where we're going to..." Can't find it anywhere.

Stacie Ponder said...

I don't remember it, so I'd have to watch it again...which I might just do!