Friday, October 8, 2010

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane

Mandy Lane is beautiful, sweet, down-to-earth, and best of all doesn't seem to know what a catch she is. So, naturally, the guys are school are constantly competing for her attention. While on a trip with some friends to a secluded ranch, it beings to seem that a demented admirer of Mandy's is eliminating his competition in a very forthright manner.

Unfairly shelved and forgotten (it's never premiered in the US in either theaters or on video), All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is an uncommonly smart and fun slasher film, from the director of the halfway decent coming-of-age-dramedy The Wackness. Mandy Lane is not a realistic movie by any means, but one of its chief virtues is that it expends a lot more effort on character development than these sorts of films usually do. A solid chunk of the running time is spent hanging out with a group of crass, loudmouth teenagers while they party and get high, so it helps they are shown with a certain sensitivity and affection. When the killer shows up and the bodies start to drop, I'm not going to say that you'll be mourning any deaths... but you won't be looking forward to them like you might in a Friday the 13th sequel.

From the get-go, I suspected that this movie would be a notch above your typical genre entry. Many slasher movies open with a murder, but I don't think I've seen one quite like what happens in Mandy Lane. Two intoxicated teens, both pining over Mandy at a high school party, stand on a rooftop over looking a pool. Sensing his opportunity, one of the boys, at first gently and eventually forcefully, tries to convince the other one that jumping into the pool would impress Mandy. He works the other boy up, first by telling him how cool it would be, assuring him that it's safe, then by going for his pride and telling the other boy that he's probably too drunk. All drunken bravado, the boy jumps, and cracks his head open on the side of the pool and dies.

Thus sets the tone for a horror movie about the treachery of teenage boys, a slasher movie that is fun, funny, tense, a tad audacious and has a little something (just a little, mind you) to say about high school. There are a few major plot revelations during the film that I don't think are too hard to guess early on, but they are still clever and well handled, and the final "twist" felt just right, enough to move this up another notch in my book.

Grade: B+

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