IT’S OCTOBER!!!! WOOHOO!!!! The Most Wonderful Time of The Year!!!!
All The Boys Love Mandy Lane….for some reason. Let’s begin by admitting Amber Heard is pretty, but …. love at first sight obsession?! Word?! Word?! This film was written by Jacob Forman who went on to …. not much. Jacob Forman does have a few recent credits as a special thanks over the last few years, which means he let someone sleep on his couch or something who was making a movie. I wonder if the film deserved to make enough money to afford the futon that he used to get those special thanks. But it’s on Netflix; so, if you’re on an elliptical and have already caught up on your YouTube subscriptions…. I guess this would be a choice that you could make … on purpose.
Jonathan Levine (director 50/50) directed this mess and he’s a very talented director for … Dramatic Comedy and Drama… Horror…not so much. It was one of his first films (2006) and didn’t get a US release until 2013 … for good reason. He’s very good at filming true to life couch conversations, which was certainly evident in 50/50, but in a Horror/Thriller the camera work/direction has to act as another character to pull us into suspense and punch us with payoffs. This piece uses a lot of shaky cam in a 1980s style with artsy cuts that never allow us to feel worried about anyone on-screen. The direction is like someone constantly spilling water on your charcoal as your trying to get the barbecue going.
The exploitation premise is simple enough: A bunch of boys try to corrupt a naive virginal archetype – Mandy Lane (Amber Heard). Mandy is kind of bland and has a friend Emmet who everyone picks on and gets even by somehow convincing a guy to jump off his roof into a pool and he dies. It’s weird.
After the pool incident, Emmet is a pariah. Mandy, on the other hand, is apparently the paragon of the feminine ideal because every man within 100 miles will give up his eternal soul for a tryst with her. She agrees to go to a ranch in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of dudes and girls who are equally boring. They arrive at the ranch and there’s a ranch hand on the property who is supposedly a Gulf War veteran even though he’s 27 and not in his later 40s. Sigh. Mandy Lane and all the other girls are obviously smitten with the ranch hand and why not….the ranch hand defies time and math itself!!! As the song goes, every girl crazy for a …. man who defies the space-time-continuum! [Sung as ZZ Top] The ranch hand is bored with the teens and returns to his home sweet shed.
Later, the teens start doing a ton of drugs and booze and Emmet or someone (dun dun dun) arrives and starts murdering everyone. They are pretty gruesome deaths and it does border on torture porn at one point, which makes sense because it was written around 2004/2005 when Hostel was all the rage. Even though people aren’t returning, all of the guys continue to try to make out with Mandy in the creepiest ways possible. Mandy Lane has 20 lines of very bland dialogue total in the film and there is a slight twist at the end that fails to thrill.
What bugged me about this film is that horror is always treated as the Red-Headed Stepchild of film. Everybody seems to think the genre is easy to write and do and this film is proof that both of those assumptions are false. First, you need to at least have some sympathy for the people getting killed. Second, you need to explain in someway at the halfway why they don’t just leave. In this film, it’s not clear why the dudes want Mandy to stay at the halfway point of the film when it’s clear that she’s not interested in any of them. Third, the camera work and direction to pull you into the house and into the story to ratchet up tension; otherwise, it’s just boring.
I’m glad that Jonathan Levine found his voice soon after this. Amber Heard did a fair enough performance for what she had to work with. There was good performance by Melissa Price, but from IMDB, it appears that this film probably tanked her career. In any case, I’m crazy excited that October is here!!!