Stars: Amber Heard, Anson Mount, Whitney Able, Luke Grimes, Michael Welch, Edwin Hodge, and Aaron Himelstein
Before I begin this review, let me warn that discussing plot elements in this horror movie is extremely tough without giving details away. I promise I will do my best to swerve as many Spoilers as possible, so you can also enjoy this great slasher flick as much as I did.
Love is a bitch, right? Remember that one girl in high school that every guy wanted but seemed unattainable. You didn’t know anything about her or even if she was a person of quality. All you knew is that she was adored and therefore she must be somebody worth knowing. Well, in this movie, as the title suggests, all the boys love Mandy Lane. All the guys want to know her and all the high school girls want to become her. She’s not one of those stereotypical popular girls who thinks she is better than everyone else, and if she does think that way, no one would question it. Somehow, she’s earned high school fame, even if she doesn’t want it.
The story revolves around a group of teens who decide to have a party at a secluded ranch for the weekend. Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) is now every boy’s fantasy now that she has become hot over the Summer break. Red (Aaron Himelstein), who is the boy throwing the party at his father’s ranch, makes it a point to get the hottest girl in school at his party. Mandy Lane accepts the invite to the ranch from a fellow girlfriend. Unfortunately, for everyone involved at the party, bringing Mandy Lane to the ranch is the worst mistake they will ever make. As the tagline says… “Everyone is dying to be with her… Someone is killing for it.”
Soon as they arrive to the farm, a mysterious psychopath begins sadistically killing each member of the group one by one. The film does extremely well from the beginning to make you keep second guessing yourself on who is actually stalking Mandy Lane. There was several times in the first half hour where I felt sure about one character and then seconds later I wasn’t sure of my choice. However, the mid-section of this movie takes a pretty ballsy turn and just reveals who the maniac is midway through the terror,
The writing does this to the viewer almost at every turn. Once you have an idea in your mind of where the movie is heading, it does something completely different, denying expectations at each level. This holds true all the way up to the mind-boggling conclusion that you will be kicking yourself over for many days. I still feel as if I need another viewing to take it all in and digest what the f*ck actually happened.
Two things are certainly clear from the success of this well made horror flick. 1) Johnathan Levine has earned the impressive career he’s made for himself, despite All The Boys Love Mandy Lane taking over 6 years to release. For this being his breakout film, it has an impressive confidence in the style it is made. 2) It’s not a question at all why Amber Heard has such a strong cinema presence these last five years. She plays Mandy Lane with such elegance and mystery that you can totally see how someone might become obsessed with her. I can definitely see some untapped potential if she moves forward correctly in her career. Hell, she has a femme-fatale type of role in this year’s Machete Kills.
Now, I will admit I do have some minor complaints to address. It’s hard to judge the movie based on one viewing, simply because the film often carries itself on the major surprises – and it has many. Whether All The Boys Love Mandy Lane offers the same weight knowing all the surprises on the 2nd viewing, well, I’m not so sure. I will say that the film does deliver certain story progressions in the final act I did not see coming and it had me smiling long after the credits roll.
Another thing, it wasn’t as violent as most slashers are. Scream is actually heavier on the gore than All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. This is not so much a complaint but a detail I found unexpected, but the violence was shockingly tame. There is only one cringe-inducing moment involving a shotgun, but other than that, it’s not too heavy-handed on the gore factor. I’d almost figure a film that took over six years to see an audience to be a tad bit aggressive on the kills. It makes me wonder why the Weinsteins didn’t see it as a marketable film.
All that aside, All The Boys Love Mandy Lane is a much-needed fresh entry in the slowly fading slasher genre. It won’t make any big waves, or break any ground for reviving horror-slasher movies, but it will please fans until the next big thing comes. If you’re looking for a great time at home and wanting to get all spooked up for the Halloween season, then All The Boys Love Mandy Lane is a perfect treat.