Monday, April 13, 2009

Review: All the Boys Love Mandy Lane

All the boys love Mandy Lane, huh? Well, I think I kinda love her too. I would've much rather watched this on the big screen than Friday the 13th. I'm really puzzled by the release troubles of this movie, but I digress.

BEWARE OF SPOILERS (Also for Valentine, Prom Night 2008 and Mindhunters)!

Looking at the cast, I thought this would be a case of David-Boreanaz-in-Valentine-logic. I use this term to refer to the odd one out in the cast. Someone that seems out of place and therefore must be the killer. Like how Valentine stars a group of women and they are stalked by some guy they used to bully when they were kids. Enter David Boreanaz as the main guy in a pointless role as Marley Shelton's ex-boyfriend. See also Johnathon Schaech in the Prom Night remake. I was very happy to find out that this logic didn't apply to Mandy Lane and that the underappreciated Anson Mount, being older than the main cast, didn't end up being the killer.

The plot is very simple: Mandy Lane is a hot girl. Every guy wants to get with her. She gets invited to a ranch party and there people start to die.

I loved the beginning of the movie where Michael Welch's character manipulates Mr. Popular to jump off the roof into the pool. Of course it goes horribly wrong. It's an 'all bets are off' moment. In any other movie the popular guy would have made the jump. Not here. Now we know anything could happen. Plus, I'm so used to seeing Welch's as Amber Tamblyn's nice but geeky younger brother on Joan of Arcadia. It was great seeing him play such a different character.

At first, I didn't think Welch would be the killer. It seemed too obvious. I thought he was a red herring. But he was. More on that later.

I was surprised that I ended up liking the teens. Sure, Aaron Himelstein got a free pass, because I liked him on Joan of Arcadia as well. I didn't know the others except for Amber Heard. I think all the teens were fairly realistic and no castmember was annoyingly bad. Example: I can't stand watching Freddy vs Jason, because Monica Keena and Jason Ritter - OUR LEADS - are so awful. The Mandy Lane cast did well. Besides Himelstein and Welch, I really liked Whitney Able and Edwin Hodge. There was more to them than just stereotypes and in the hands of worse actors they could've been just that: stereotypes. Heard was an appealing lead and I'm not surprised she's been cast in many projects since.

I think the movie took a bit too long to get to the main action, but I was never too bothered by it. And once we did get to it, the movie delivered. The main thing I love though is the cinematography. The entire film looks gorgeous! I haven't been this in love with the look of a film since the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. The movie feels like an old school horror film which is nice. While I'm very pro-Scream and like many of the slashers that followed it, Mandy Lane feels like a breath of fresh air in a tired genre.

Now for the ending. About halfway through Welch is revealed as the killer. I thought, 'hmmm.. okay, best friend is so in love with her he kills for her.' Kinda lame, but okay. I found the gun as weapon of choice interesting as it reminds of various high school shootings. Then it turns out Mandy was in on the shootings all along and they had a suicide pact, which made me think of Columbine etc. even more. Welch and Mandy being losers picked on by the popular crowd so they decide to kill them and then themselves. Interesting angle, but I can imagine it's not one that is appreciated by many, especially if you've lived through it.

Why she turned on Welch in the end is open to interpretation and not something I care to discuss right now. I do wonder if Mandy was involved in her parents' death à la Jonny Lee Miller in Mindhunters.

Overall, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is an enjoyable and solid horror flick. A 4/5.

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