Welcome to my unofficial April A-to-Z. I’m not participating in the actual event, but feel free to check that out. I decided I’d chose 26 horror films, one title for each letter of the alphabet, all new to me, and mostly available through the various streaming sources that I have access to.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
Runtime: 1h 30m
Director: Jonathan Levine
Writer: Jacob Forman
Stars: Amber Heard, Anson Mount, Whitney Able
A group of high-schoolers invite Mandy Lane, an innocent, desirable girl, to a weekend party on a secluded ranch. While the festivities rage on, the number of revelers begins to drop mysteriously.
Initial: I’d heard a bit about this movie from podcasts, but I don’t remember why exactly. Jonathan Levine has directed other things I want to watch but haven’t (Long Shot (2019), 50/50 (2011)). The runner-up for A was Annabelle (2016), but I decided I like slasher films better than haunted dolls films.
Production Notes: I kept thinking that this film wasn’t *that* old, and I was partially correct. It was shown at a few festivals in 2006-07, but then fell into a distribution hole in the US until 2013.
What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead) The reason I had heard about All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is due to its subversion of the Final Girl trope. The implied plot is that either a jealous admirer or an over-protective psycho is going to bump off the repugnant boys who continually make lewd passes at good, pure Mandy Lane until things go way too far and Mandy has to defend herself from him. But this is a film made in the 2000s, so obviously there has to be a twist. I spent much of the film looking for that twist and was mostly correct when it finally was revealed. There is kind of an additional Columbine-flavored twist at the end that really didn’t make much sense to me.
As a teen slasher film, it was…okay. I didn’t think the twist was all that great and I found some of the editing/aesthetic choices to be distracting. The film does do something interesting, though. First, it makes the audience complicit in ogling Mandy Lane. I think most people agree that, on a physical level, Amber Heard is fairly attractive, but really she’s not significantly better looking than her co-stars. But she’s not shot that way. We’re continually given close-ups of her face and body and shown the males around her watching her as well. Then, when Mandy agrees to go to the pool party and later to the ranch, the audience is led to wonder why she’s doing these things. The male characters have made comments to her and behind her back about their intentions—to be the first to have sex with her. She’s not asking for this attention, really. It makes her uncomfortable, but she doesn’t strongly rebuff it either. As a female viewer, I really started to judge Mandy in much the same way the other characters in the movie do. And that’s the uncomfortable thing about this movie.