Written by Jacob Forman and Directed by Jonathan Levine.
One of the cool things about this Horror Marathon review series is a lot of my friends are just as in to horror as I am so they constantly send me new horror movies I otherwise never would have heard of. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is one of those movies. It’s movies like these that I’m glad for because this film is going to stick with me for a very long time.
Now, this is the first movie I’ve reviewed that has an actual twist to it so I’m going to put up a massive SPOILER WARNING sign here. So… SPOILER WARNING.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane sounds like a run of the mill slasher movie if someone was to just tell you its logline; A group of freshman students go out to a farm for the night where they’re brutally murdered one by one. It’s got all the ingredients of it. Sexually charged and promiscuous teens, the “pure” girl, a mysterious stranger that might or might not be the murderer. But it’s the way this film uses them. There’s an underlying tone to this film that feels strange. From the opening scene of Mandy Lane walking in to school on the first day with people staring at her, something feels off, and it’s that feeling of uncomfortability that this film plays off of so well. Nothing feels right. Most of the characters except Garth the Farm Hand and Mandy Lane herself are assholes who treat each other like dirt and treat Mandy like an item they all want to get with. When the final twist comes and it turns out the killer is Mandy’s friend and it’s all for Mandy you kind of understand why she did it. Everyone who died were people who probably paid no attention to the girl before she “got hot”, but once she did she was suddenly more popular and had friends, but it was all because of looks. Each person who dies either tries to kiss her or keeps telling her how beautiful she is. And at the end, when everyone is dead except her, the murderer, and Garth, it seems like it’s all over. Throughout the film the only person who really treats Mandy like a human being is Garth and you feel safe when he’s around her, and the way she acts around him makes it all the better. Even the murderer turns out to have just done it “all for her”, and so she murders him too. But she doesn’t murder Garth because of how he acted around her.
The acting is top notch in the film. Amber Heard plays Mandy Lane with this relatability that makes you feel for her, but she also gives Mandy an underlying feeling of unease. You don’t feel right around this girl but you still feel bad for what she’s going through. People are constantly talking to her about her looks but never about anything else. But then she turns out to be a little psychopath and suddenly it’s a bit weird that you’re sympathizing with the character. You don’t WANT to feel bad for her but every other character except Garth is played out like such a bad person that I almost felt conflicted (much like the Devil’s Rejects. Bad people. Bad situations). Anson Mount plays the farmhand Garth completely straight. The only character in the entire film who’s actually honest. Though his first appearance is in a scene that wants to almost tease that he might be the killer it becomes apparent very quickly that he isn’t. The man is genuinely nice and you trust him more than the other characters that get much more screen time. Michael Welch plays the “killer” of the film, Emmett, with a disturbing amount of darkness. This is a character who wasn’t just influenced by Mandy to try and get with her, but was influenced to kill FOR her. He’s just as much a victim in the film but the way he kills all the others with such ease makes it hard to feel sorry for him when Mandy decides he needs to die as well, because in the end it turns out he was just as materialistic as the rest of them.
The kills in the film are bloody and flinch-worthy and the director doesn’t shy away from showing it all. From a gun shoved in to a girl’s mouth until she bleeds to a man getting blinded by a knife we’re forced to watch it all. The film itself looks unique. Using a much grainier film it doesn’t feel as crisp as other horror films and it looks almost like a home video at times but the director uses it to add atmosphere and add on to that sense that you can’t really trust Mandy’s good girl attitude. The colors are muted except on Mandy Lane and the blood, giving the pallet and the eye something to focus on each time (that being Mandy Lane, just like she’s the object of the others in the film).
What stuck with me most through this film was the idea. That theme of the girl who “got attractive over the summer” and how they used that theme and twisted it to the point of showing just how people can objectify that girl in the cruel highschool atmosphere. It’s dark thrilling and while the twist is seen miles away it’s still cool to watch happen, nonetheless. As far as slasher films go All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is one of the more unique ones and if you’re a fan of the genre and want a taste of something a little different it’s really worth watching!