Like far too many modern horror films, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane flaunts its knowledge of classic genre fundamentals but fails to do anything very clever or surprising with them. A cheesy title sequence and the later sound of the Go-Gos’s “Our Lips Are Sealed” ground the film in an ’80s tradition, while fuzzy, slow-mo, lens flare-dappled cinematography calls to mind not only ’70s exploitation flicks but also The Virgin Suicides, another tale about a teenage blonde so gorgeous and untouched that she holds a near-mystical sway over young men. As Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) walks down her high school hallway, heads turn and mouths drool, as does director Jonathan Levine’s camera, which reduces Mandy to (in this visual order) a big chest, a striking face, and a nice ass. At a pool party held by one of many lustful suitors, Mandy sits aloof while her nerdy best friend Emmet (Michael Welch) eggs on the get-together’s jock host to fatally jump off a roof. Nine months later, Emmet—who is clearly not one of the beautiful people—is still chasing Mandy (around a track, while wearing a Natural Selection t-shirt), who’s now friends with a group of hot, horny idiots who invite her to a weekend getaway at a country ranch. Levine and screenwriter Jacob Forman do a nice job employing sexualized (usually phallic) imagery as a means of suggesting the underlying violence in covetous male desire, at least until the symbolism becomes so rampant and obvious that one can practically see the quotation marks surrounding it. The film’s dreamy, hazy vibe and woozy depiction of laidback drinking and drugging is affected but nonetheless moderately appealing. Yet once its soon-to-be-bloody teens arrive at the ranch, Mandy Lane adopts a quite mundane hack-and-slash routine, along the way sprinkling hints about chaste Mandy’s lesbianism and delivering commentary about the consequences of outsider detachment, both of which—because Mandy isn’t a person but merely an emblematic object of erotic obsession—only add up to a rug-pulling finale that’s nonsensical on a practical level and unpersuasive on a thematic one.
- 90 min
- Jonathan Levine
- Jacob Forman
- Amber Heard, Anson Mount, Whitney Able, Michael Welch, Edwin Hodge, Aaron Himelstein, Luke Grimes, Melissa Price, Adam Powell
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