All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
The film promised to take the old slasher story and bring us something new and original with it, and the plot outline sounded very interesting.
She doesn't really hang around with the expected groups, or any groups for that matter. Instead her one friend is viewed by the rest of the school as a bit of an oddball.
One day she's invited to a party on the ranch of one of her classmates along with a small, select group of friends. She agrees and they head off deep into the country with only the ranch hand nearby.
However things don't go well. With drugs and drink being passed around like crazy, and sex high on the agenda with everyone, no one expected that murder would be on the agenda for the weekend. One by one the party goers are getting murdered.
I had been expecting lot's from All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, and to begin with it seemed as though it was going to deliver it.
From the opening scene you can see that this film has style, the cool music playing over Mandy's entrance to the film is perfectly chosen and compliments the slow shot of her entering the school perfectly. Then there's the way that it's actually shot.
Instead of following her as you would normally see, the camera takes the point of view of the other students, occasionally cutting back to them staring as she walks in, and our view pans up her legs and focuses on her breasts until she meets her friend.
It's a great shot that instantly embodies how the school view her and also puts the audience straight into the high school mindset. What's also so good about this shot is it establishes the way that Mandy Lane, played by Amber Heard, feels about herself in this social situation. She's not shown as being oblivious to this, in fact her head turns to look at those watching her, and she seems uncomfortable with the attention.
From here on the cinematography remains of a high standard with wide angle, pulled back shots and filters which add extra depth and an almost surreal feel to some of the shots. The internal and night shots have some strong lighting, however on some close up shots the camera feels too close, with the characters heads partially moving out of frame.
The story has ups and downs. The opening scene gives a strong base for Lane and the way the school sees her. Then the first party gives a great character setup for her friend Emmet, played by Michael Welch, and for their relationship. Already the story is well set in two quick sequences.
However once the story moves to the ranch I found it became pretty stock slasher territory with characters heading off one by one to be murdered, especially when the characters are involved in something sexual. Add to that the fact that the ancillary characters seem a little flat, and the quality does feel as though it's dipping.
Nothing really surprises here until the moment that we actually see the killer. This had me thrown, and actually before we do see them full face, we do see glimpses that are none too hidden. Initially I thought that the early glimpses were a mistake by the director, but when we do see his face I realised that this was intentional and that suddenly this was trying to be something a little different.
Even though we know who the killer is and therefore expect something stronger to come, it doesn't, and we continue with the standard teen slasher but with strong camera work and an excellent soundtrack.
However it doesn't stay like this, and there's a story twist that comes rather unexpectedly, although to a degree you do see it coming. Yet it's one of those great moments where you're anticipating it and feeling confused and unsure if you're absolutely right, and I love those moments.
From here the film plays out well and does manage to provide the audience with something different to the glossy teen slasher that the main part of the film delivers.
For the main part though it's the character of Mandy Lane that is the most engaging. Her relationships with the other characters are subtle and pull you into her story, this aspect is very well written and visualised in some small scenes.
This is a strong point of the film, the picture, in fact outside the twist this is perhaps the strongest part. Mandy Lane is beautifully filmed, particularly when the camera pulls back and the filters are applied. There are some gorgeous shots to be had and it really does compliment the film.
Dolby Digital 5.1
There's nothing exceptional about the 5.1 track, in fact I had to play around with the settings early on to make sure my rear speakers were actually accepting any signal. That lack of any feeling from the rears seems to go on through the film.
UK Trailer, Amber Heard interview
I found the interview funny and confusing. It was difficult to follow, repetitive, fractured, rather contrived at times, but ultimately lovely to watch. To be honest it doesn't portray Amber Heard in a great light.
With the only other extra being the trailer, I did find the DVD release rather disappointing.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is, for the most part, a standard teen slasher with some great looking cinematography over the top. However there are some strong moments, particularly in the opening sequences and the closing sections of the film, and the character of Mandy Lane and her relationships are pretty interesting to watch. The soundtrack is another strong area of the film.
It does provide enough to be different, and it is unfair to class the entire film as another teen slasher because it does give a little more than that.
The DVD offering is a bit weak though, just a trailer and the interview with the lead actress aren't a great deal nowadays.