Mandy, Mandy, Mandy, when are they going to release you theatrically? I mean, here in the United States? Seems you were a victim of last year’s ‘Great Grindhouse Flop of Ought Seven’. The failure of Grindhouse put the fear of god in Hollywood money men everywhere for some reason and because of that, the brakes were put on a lot of genre movies because according to the people playing the game in Hollywood, the numbers don’t lie. Because no one saw Grindhouse, logically no one would see All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. I mean, that makes sense. Right? RIGHT?
Of course it doesn’t. Don’t be ridiculous. There’s a lot of positive press floating around about Mandy Lane right now and I think somewhere in my viewing of the way-delayed movie, I missed some important element that made the whole thing click and live up to the claims that this is the best horror movie in years. People are likening it to Scream and making all these egregious statements about the effect that it is going to have on the direction that horror takes over the next ten years. Take it from me. It’s just a slasher movie. A particularly predictable slasher movie. A slasher so heavily laden with slasher cliches that it almost seems deliberate.
Mandy Lane is the archetypal slasher movie virgin. Her chaste, vice-free status makes her the ultimate in unattainable and for that, every guy in the movie wants to “hit that”, as it were. A good portion of the movie is dedicated to guys drooling over her, wringing their hands and discussing how they’d nail that shit eight ways to sunday. After a pool party tragedy nine months prior to the events of the movie, Mandy falls in with a crowd of chicks so stoned, so drunk, so giggly and the kind of horny you only see in porn, that it seems a little fishy. She hasn’t changed. She still doesn’t drink, doesn’t do any of the drugs the other kids do nor has she had sex so it seems strange when she accompanies this crowd of girls and the appropriate amount of horny boys on their way out to a remote ranch where the cell phones get no bars. Before long the dialog is saturated in sexual innuendo and every scene is populated by booze and weed. And a little while after that, people start dying.
Bathed in the same bleak, washed out tones that characterize The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,All The Boys Love Mandy Lane is a plainly standard exercise in slasher movie antics. The victims to be are a despicable lot of assholes. Vapid, overpriveleged, overmedicated, drunk, stoned and hornier than everyone you knew in high school combined. If anyone deserves having the barrels of a shotgun rammed through the back of their mouth, it’s these jerks. At the same time, every five minutes there’s an “I’ll be right back moment” and the movie is punctuated by several power outage type scenarios. You’re constantly assaulted by blunt foreshadowing meant to isolate members of the herd for killing. The entire time I’m watching this, I keep waiting for some kind of twist on the recipe. That dash of spices that is going to make it live up to these reviews calling it the best horror movie in years but it never gets there. Every time it looks like someone is going to wander off into the night to check on the others, or check on that sound they heard outside, or start the generator, the smart money is on a prediction that they’re not coming back alive. It’s loaded with strange red herring moments and the killer, kept in secret for half the movie, is revealed to be the very person you were hoping that it wasn’t. Not because you like them or anything, mostly because it seemed too simple.
No effort is put into making this anything special. Other contemporary slashers like Hatchet and Behind The Mask, both of which I liked a lot, had a lot of fun with a very tired subgenre but Mandy Lane takes its rank and file approach very seriously and suffers for it. On the upside, Mandy Lane takes brief swims in Breakfast Club territory and has a dimension that few slashers attempt. Character building is often employed, illustrating an apocalyptic scenario of teenage life. These are kids with no moral compass, operating on base impulses to party. Mandy is their polar opposite and in the movie’s one unique, genuinely original idea, proves that no one gets out alive (figuratively speaking, that is) and that we’re all damaged in spite of appearances.
At times Mandy Lane seems to be passing harsh judgement on the excesses of vice. Halloween has always been hailed as the movie that established the idea of that paragon of virtue. The virginal survivor girl. Carpenter has said that he never consciously set out to go there but it’s interesting that other horror movies have picked up on that idea. Mandy Lane takes that idea to its logical extreme and then twists it. Unfortunately, this moment of innovation means sitting through tired slasher cliches for nearly ninety minutes. Where the rave reviews are coming from is beyond me. It’s not bad but it’s also nothing terribly new. In a time when old horror conventions are being reinvented for a new generation, there’s nothing about All The Boys Love Mandy Lane that sticks out. It rides strictly on nostalgia factor but even among some of the second tier slashers of the hey-day, it’s a generally mild body count flick.