Wednesday, May 13, 2009

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Horror, 2006
USA, 90min
Distributed by: Noble Entertainment

Meet the hottest girl in college, Mandy Lane. Every guy at school has the hots' for her, every single one. When Mandy is invited to spend the weekend at Red’s farmhouse with some of her new friends, things start to go really terribly wrong as someone is stalking and killing them. Who could it be and why? And what is it with Mandy Lane that makes all the boys love her?

Excuse me? I thought that All the Boys Love Mandy Lane was supposed to be the new smash? The shit, the real deal, amazing and according to all those festival reviews and rant the best darned horror movie in ages with a surprise twist ending… Erhm, what? No I’ve got be honest and say that I really didn’t enjoy this movie. OK, I’ll give them credit for an interesting set up where the strange relationship between Mandy Lane [Amber Heard] and Emmet [Michael Walsh] is presented and explored, it’s really creepy when he manipulates the Jock wanting to get into Mandy’s pants, and her total cold reaction to the terrible event that follows as he smashes into the floor of the pool. But that’s about it. The jump forward in time, and then the red herring that Emmet and Lane don’t get along anymore is kind of lame. Then the expositions to set up that still, all the boys want to bone Mandy Lane. And here’s my first problem, why don’t the other chicks react? If they are a nice little clique of friends that hang out, drink and fuck together, then why the hell would the girls be the ones to arrange and bring Mandy Lane with them on the weekend trip? You’d never bring your own competition to a party would you! That just threw me off as its plain stupid. And from there it’s all down hill, the stupid “beer heist”, the hand job in the back of the car, the arrival at the Ranch and introduction of hero character Garth, the drinking games that lead nowhere and the total despicable characters that are unravelled in front of us. There’s nothing new going on here at all. It’s all genre convention at its worst, stupid kids drinking, taking drugs, and teenage hormones running rampant in their lust for a shag and not enough nudity to keep it interesting. And it would have needed it because the story isn’t that great to tell the truth. Then the antagonist makes it’s entry.

Stuff usually gets going after mediocre exposition and setup when you throw in the antagonist to start the mayhem off, and from a start I thought that this might get better as the first time you actually see the antagonist, no one else does! Obviously inspired by J-Horror and Asian ghost movies, the killer is already in frame as Marlin [Melissa Price] walks up to the totally un-empathetic Jake [Luke Grimes] with a comforting blow job. A very neat detail that I thought would follow through the movie, but unfortunately not. At least this scene evokes some sort of audience emotion, as Marlin tries to comfort Jake and expects the same sexual favours back from him, makes us feel some what empathetic towards her, but totally wanting Jake to be the first to die. But never forget that in generic horror the slut gets more than dick first, she’s also the first to die.

But from there on it just goes for the same old tricks, and then the worst of all why the heck would you expose the killer so early on? It was fairy obvious from that “Not friends anymore!” scene before the kids took off for the ranch that Emmet was going to be the guy stalking them down in a “if I can’t have her nobody else can either.” That is what the opening pool party death and the race track incident add up to, so there’s no real reason to keep Emmet hidden, but then again you want to keep your audience guessing as long as possible, and my line of thought was shattered there as soon as he was revealed. I’ll get back to the reveal I was hoping for later on when I explain how this movie could have rocked so much harder.

Here’s a quick mention of other really stupid things that got me feeling that I was wasting my time with this flick. There’s a power failure and the ranch looses all electricity after Jake fiddles with the fuses in an attempt to make a move on Mandy, which the other two lads already have done. Why don’t the other girls get jealous? Especially as the “pretty” one claims that Mandy looks so much better than her in a tender intoxicated moment in the bathroom. If you say a thing like that you are obviously threatened by Mandy’s good looks and would be jealous as hell if the bloke you where trying to make a move on went after Mandy instead. Ridiculous. Anyway, there’s the power shortage, which separates the group, decent enough move I’ll give them that, but then as Jake makes his move on Mandy, there’s a soft seductive music track playing in the back ground…!? What? I thought this was supposed to be a horror movie, not a romantic piece of schlock. That music did more to break the illusion than anything else, and it lies so low that I really thought that it was supposed to be music playing in the house. Stupid. The party! Now I’ve been to a fair amount of parties just like this one, cesspools of debauchery where alcohol, drugs and sexual lust are so tangible that you could slice it, package it and sell it as a sex aid overseas. But this party just lingers on and on and on, and nobody gives the impression of having a good time or passing out. So I just don’t get it. It’s insulting to me as an audience member. Now for a quick focus on the killings… …well I thought that we where quite used to and all right for onscreen violence and total chaos when it comes to our horror movies. After all 2006 saw grotesque imagery and gore fests like The Hills Have Eyes, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Feast, SAWIII, Hatchet and a whole load of other movies heavily depending on onscreen carnage and death. But after the first initial kill, this movie almost goes off-screen with the violence. Now go figure that out? Why would you do that? Especially that scumbag Jake, I’d torment the crap out of him if this was my movie.

Then there’s the surprise twist ending. Twist yeah maybe, but definitely not surprising at all. It more or less makes sense that Mandy is in cohorts with Emmet, and I started thinking that this was going to be the surprise ending a few minutes before it was revealed, but I still don’t understand for what reason? That’s what annoyed me, it’s just stupid. If they where total outsiders yeah, I could have gone along with it, but these two kids where accepted parts of school hierarchy. Emmet goes with Mandy to the first party, and it’s only because of Mandy snubbing him on the race track that the Chloe disses him. Then when Mandy decides to double cross Emmet just because she’s got the hots for the ranch hand Garth is also quite sudden and illogical. The ending isn’t very satisfying at all, and to be frank not much in the movie as the end credits scroll have been either.

But if you want to say something good about this movie, I have to say that the cinematography by Darren Genet is beautifull, and you have to take your hat of to whoever cut the trailer, because that is an impressive trailer, and it sure had me holding high hopes for this movie, it's just a pity that it turned out to be rather tame. But still a great trailer.

Now here’s my take on the whole thing. First accident/death at the pool party. Yeah keep it it’s going to be essential to the final twist. Also it does a nice job of setting up the strange relationship between Emmet and Mandy. Get the kids out to the ranch after snubbing Emmet on the race track. Fine, keep it and get them out there. Set’s up a good line that will return in the final act. Loose all the ridiculous girlfriends talking Mandy into coming along for the ride. Flip that around and have them doing it as a favour to say Red or one of the other blokes. This gives you the opportunity to alienate Mandy from the other girls later on, and also weave in some complicated threads as Mandy obviously goes along for Jake, which is why she’s appalled when he gets that hand job from Marlin in the back of the car later on. Chloe convinces Mandy to come for Red, Mandy comes for Jake, Chloe is disappointed when Jake tries to go after Mandy, just like all other boys in the film, and devastated when he goes with her best friend Marlin. See you have a very fragile and delicate set up there. None of the girls get along when it comes to men and love, just like in real life. Then bring in your masked antagonist, but make him really terrifying. Keep the great cheerleader chant as he beats Marlin to death, but make it much more visual, that’s why the kids are here. Keep the violence on screen and much more provocative. When the antagonist drives the car up to the house and shoots fireworks at the on the porch, let a fire work hit one of them in the face, ruining their good luscious looks and taking one of the few values they have away from them. Imagine, your friends face is a smashed burning crater, and as he/she lies screaming on the porch the others have already taken to hiding behind the front door. Create a moral dilemma, risk your life to save your mate, or cower as he dies a painful death! Sprinkle a lot more nudity throughout the movie, give us a few teasing shots of Mandy “the untouchable” if you really want her to be so much hotter than the others. Make the audience want Mandy too. Shock ending, here you go, Hint at Emmet being in the area, but don’t reveal that he’s the killer, don’t even show him, just hint Let the audience do the math, give them an investigatory challenge. Then the surprise twist, just before the last fight the last crescendo Chloe runs towards Mandy, reveal the killer in the car… OH MY GOD IT’S DYLAN, FROM THE POOL PARTY! With his scared face and disfigured back after the terrible accident in the opening sequence he’s made it his mission to kill Mandy and all of her new little mates, because, “If I can’t have her, no one can!” This makes sense because, after all the guy threw himself of a fucking roof in an attempt to get in her panties remember? Then as Mandy kills Chloe have her stare in terror at Dylan, because that’s NOT who she was expecting to see, she was expecting Emmet, who she shares a death pact with. Enter Emmet, have him and Dylan fight to the death, Mandy assisting Emmet. In the fight Dylan tears Mandy’s clothing exposing her breasts, even keep them in her bra if you are too prude, but tear that shirt, it’s setting you up for the REAL shock ending. The fight goes on, Emmet is more or less dead, you now think that he’s only been there to stalk Mandy and through his mad behavior saved her life for a moment longer. Mandy beats Dylan to death even in the cow grave just like in the real movie if you like. It’s a nice disturbing touch. She goes back to the lethally wounded Emmet, and sits next to him. They look at each other and we realise that they still are very close friends. “Did I do good?” He asks, “You did great” Mandy says sobbing. She drags his head into her lap and he produces the vial containing the suicide pills and explains their death pact just as in the real movie. Then she sobbingly agrees as he tries his best with his bloodied hands to cover up that exposed breast. She kisses him and they both take the pills. Now Garth who we have been counting on to be the hero drives up in his jeep only to find a bunch of dead kids. GOSH! That’s shocking! Three killers, two working as a team the other one solo, but all of them unaware of the others presence. But for this to work we need to set two things up, one in that opening sequence, one later after the reveal. In the opening sequence, Emmet needs to try to get a peak at Mandy as she changes clothes or something, this to give effect to the final scene where he tries to cover her up, his love is now much deeper than the other blokes as his love is much more than lust and the desire to see a pair of tits. The second set up needs to be the back-story of why Emmet and Mandy chose to go on a killing spree. We need to see how the new gang engulfs Mandy and more or less alienate Emmet from her, preferably by some humiliating rite where Mandy can’t intervene but is present. This will be their reason for murder. The death of Mandy at the end will pack much more impact than the lame drive off ending that the movie has now. And that my friends is my take on how to create a shocking movie with a surprise twist ending.

2.35:1 Anamporphic Widescreen

Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts Digital Surround, English dialogue with Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish subtitles

Trailers for other titles from Noble; The Mist and a totally terrible Kärlek3000 trailer. That's all folks.


Ty said...

Excellent site you have here! Happy i found it.

Great review by the way.

We are still waiting for an U.S. release...Had a feeling this was over-hyped.

CiNEZiLLA said...

Whoa! I never knew that it's wasn't released over there!
I'm kinda surprised as it's pretty generic fare that usually does pretty well over there... Strange.

Well you ain't missing much, watch the original Friday the 13th again, that's still a fucking great slasher movie!


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