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Saturday, November 30, 2013

ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE -- DVD review by porfle



ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE (2006) is another throwback to the teen slasher flicks of the 80s, with its cast of horny highschoolers partying it up in a secluded location while an unknown stalker lessens their number "Ten Little Indians" style.  Sometimes that's a good thing, and sometimes it's not so good.  Here, we sorta waver between the two wondering which one will win out in the end.

Amber Heard (AND SOON THE DARKNESS, THE RIVER WHY, ExTERMINATORS,  MACHETE KILLS) fills the bill as Mandy, the quintessential gorgeous virgin whom every guy (and some girls) wants to "get with" first.  Sure enough, she's the main attraction when she accepts an invitation to spend a party weekend at the isolated ranch home of nerdy-but-horny classmate Red (Aaron Himelstein, excellent as a young Austin Powers in GOLDMEMBER). 

Also vying for Amber's attentions are macho Jake (Luke Grimes, TAKEN 2) and token black dude Bird (Edwin Hodge).  The other girls in the gang are prissy blonde Chloe (Whitney Able) and earthy brunette Marlin (Melissa Price), whose own petty jealousies and insecurities have them constantly at each other's throats.   And trying to keep these rambunctious youngsters from wrecking the place in the absence of Red's mom and dad is ranch caretaker Garth (Anson Mount, HICK), an older Marlboro Man-type who arouses the interest of the girls.


But first--nine months earlier, to be exact--there's an interesting pool-party prologue in which rich, popular Dylan (Adam Powell) is egged on by Mandy's jealous friend Emmett (Michael Welch, TWILIGHT series) to perform a drunken stunt to impress her and is horribly killed.  After such a promising start, it's a bit disconcerting when the story then settles right into the usual groove of sex-obsessed high school kids making plans for the big weekend bash where we don't have to be psychics to predict pretty much how things will go.

Sure enough, the rowdy road trip to Red's ranch (during which they steal several kegs of beer from a hapless roadside merchant) and the giddy build-up to party time upon their arrival at the scenic location lead right into the standard booze 'n' weed blowout.  Besides being one of the most boring teen parties ever filmed (making it, at times, sadly realistic) it's replete with the expected romantic and other interpersonal conflicts resulting in bruised feelings and resentment, which in turn leads to various people going off into the night alone to sulk before being stalked and killed by an unknown murderer.  Betcha didn't see any of that coming, huh?

Since this movie has no urban legend-spawn local brute with a unique killing tool, getting revenge on all teens for some unfortunate incident in his past, we're left to wonder who the hell is killing Mandy's friends and why.  Is it one of the teens themselves, carrying out some hidden agenda?  Another classmate,  perhaps?  Or is it the seemingly sane ranch hand, Garth?  Why am I asking you? 

At least we know it isn't  Mandy, since we see her elsewhere during each murder.  At any rate, the script does a bland job of building tension between kills since everyone just sits around getting bored, revealing hidden insecurities, or trying to talk Mandy into getting romantic with them until finally people start passing out.  Not exactly edge-of-your-seat stuff there. 


Anyway--not to reveal too much--the next day brings some welcome action and a few surprises which, while not earth-shakingly original, at least break up the monotony and get things percolating.  Director Jonathan Levine has a knack for moving the camera in interesting ways, using those wide-open spaces around Red's family ranch to good advantage and staging the action well. 

The emphasis is on Jacob Foreman's lean story rather than how graphic  the kills are, so, with some exceptions, there's a surprising lack of gore effects during the mainly conventional shootings and stabbings.  In fact,  while this film may fit snugly into the stalker-slasher genre,  it doesn't really qualify as a horror flick. 

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound.  Subtitles are in English and Spanish.  The sole extra is an informative and personable commentary track by director Levine.

Despite being a mostly unexceptional example of its genre,  ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE is a good-looking film which manages to avoid being terminally boring.  The somewhat rousing finale edges it into "worth seeing" territory, and I wasn't left at the fadeout feeling as though I'd wasted  my time.

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