Eye For Film >> Movies >> All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006) Film Review
Mandy Lane is different
It's high school. We've all seen the way it works. Teenagers dizzy with hormones compete to impress one another. Everybody's chasing somebody. But all the boys (and, the opening sequence suggests, some of the girls) are just crazy about Mandy Lane. With honey-coloured hair and milky white skin, straight A grades and legs which win her every running contest, Mandy is the archetypal breaker of teenage hearts - yet she stands out from the crowd even further because she simply isn't interested in the dating game. A past family tragedy has distanced her from those around her. She's friendly, practical, considerate and charming, but she seems unlikely ever to yield to anyone's advances. So a group of the boys concoct a plan to lure Mandy away for a weekend in remote ranch where everyone can get drunk and they'll each have the chance to make a pass at her.
We've all encountered these horror movie stock-in-trades before. A group of kids partying in a house in the middle of nowhere. Pissing off a truck driver on the way there. Being rude to the surly (yet handsome) ranch hand with a mysterious past. Drinking too much. Having inconsiderate casual sex. There are guns in the house, and poisonous snakes round about; there's a windmill with nasty looking blades. All sorts of opportunities for classic slasher movie violence await. But this is a film which knows what it's doing. Handling the cliches expertly, playfully, it's all the while taking us somewhere quite different.
Fans of traditional slasher movie will love this film, but so will a lot of people who wouldn't normally touch them. From the start, the sharp dialogue and strong sense of character draw the viewer in. There ought to be a fair bit of horror in Mandy's situation alone, vulnerable as she is, and the film acknowledges this, but it does so cleverly in a way which still allows us room to care about the boys. These are all flawed and often unpleasant people, but they're still people. And yet Mandy is different. Her grace and level-headedness draw us closer to her as the story unfolds. As her aunt says, she knows how to look after herself. She's not about to be taken advantage of by anybody. She is the final girl to end all final girls. Yet the signposting of this, by way of the title, weakens the story not one bit.
Beautifully shot, with intelligent use of desaturated imagery and vivid overexposures, this is a film which takes us back to the old days when horror movies were at the cutting edge of artistic exploration on celluloid. It's deceptively simple, its fine judgment seducing the viewer almost without them being aware of it. And it's a long time since any film had a heroine like this, finding her own direction despite everyone else's attempts to objectify her. By the end, you'll be head over heels in love with Mandy Lane too.Reviewed on: 07 Feb 2008