“The OC meets Friday the 13th”
I hate it when a quote tries to define a film as being a cross, or mix of two other films, as the coverart quote from Total Film did for All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. Some movies deserve to stand up on their own two legs for their merits, or fail for their own shortcomings. An additionally annoying piece of the cliche is they always reference quality films, never bombs. You never see a movie cover saying “It’s like Gigli meets Meet the Spartans!,” or “Superbabies, with a heaping mix of Glitter and a dash of House of the Dead!” Rant over, review incoming.
Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) is an uber-hottie high school junior, who is utterly unattainable to all of her not so secret admirers, aka every male who sets eyes upon her. The end of the school year party is set for a house on a ranch a bit away, and Mandy, along with a few female and male friends, are alone for a few days. Naturally, all the boys have questionable intentions when it comes to getting Mandy alone. But, as this is a suspense film, one by one, the teens start dropping like flies, in a very torture porn-esque series of attacks, and the youths set out to survive the situation.
There was far more right with All the Boys Love Mandy Lane than there were negatives. The teens are believable for their age (as compared to the extremely stubbly, deep voiced “teens” in most other films in the genre), and are annoying enough to make one lust for their deaths. Suspense, selfishness, betrayal, and overblown hormones running rampant are at every corner, plot twists don’t just drop out of the sky, and cliche does not rear it’s ugly head all too often. Dialog is sharp, cruel, and at times, hilarious (“whatever, smarty cunt!”)
The gore is absolutely great as well, including one of the absolute nastiest knife cuts I’ve ever seen, that left me squeaming in my seat. The typical “running away from the bad guy and tripping” convention leads to a great, disgusting twist. Gunshots lead to great splatters, blood gets everywhere, and the attack scenes with the rifle that don’t involve firing it are absolutely filthy and brutal.
The pacing for the film is fast as well, with a nice balance of early character development before the splatterfest. I only wish it were a bit longer, as the film really did fly by, and left me wanting more. The conclusion, after the plot twist, was a bit predictable, which may be the biggest strike, but it doesn’t detract from the film’s enjoyment. The film is also very much a tease, with just the slightest nudity, despite all the sexual overtones. This UK import may never see the light of day in terms of a domestic release, and has been in numerous Amazon.co.uk “Get 3 for the price of 2” sales recently. The next time you’re in the mood to bring home a title that you can’t find in the states, make it All the Boys Love Mandy Lane.
The picture quality for All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is not reference quality. There is great detail at times, including some very pronounced peach fuzz, but it is always in the midst of detracting forces, such as blown out skin tones (and a few entire shots whose colors are completely burnt, aesthetic choice or no, it is less than attractive), a very strong grain level on par with that of 300, and some soft or otherwise blurry shots. An early scene including a prolonged shot of clouds looks awful do the the horrendous noise in the whites. I also noticed one scene (the one of Mandy asking her parents permission to go to the get-away) with aliasing.
The DTS HD Master Audio mix for the film is an absolute beast, though. The opening party scene includes one of the grisliest, realistic, and epically disgusting impacts recorded. The bass at times has a massive overpowering roar, and the sound design, especially for the suspenseful shots, is great. Thumps and thuds are just nasty in their detail. Ambient sounds are constant and engaging. My only criticism is that some lines did not have the clarity of others.
There is a UK Theatrical Trailer and an Interview with Amanda Heard on the disc, however, I could not access either, meaning they are PAL encoded. As I cannot judge what I cannot see, the extras score will be a N/A. Sadly, I wanted to see some extras (for once) with this one, so this sucks.
Importers, fire away. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is a great flick, with below average video, but an awesome audio track. Horror fans should pick this one up, and fans of the bitchy teen movies should also give it a shot. Definitely one of my favorite imports.