By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
Hitting theaters this week is a film that may sound familiar to you, especially if you’re a horror fan. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane debuted to rave reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival… back in 2006.
Remember this? Also 2006.
Now that it’s been disentangled from the arcane studio politics that tied up its release, and everyone who hasn’t seen in at a festival, foreign theater, or, *ahem* pirate lair can finally give it a look. The plot is simple enough. All of the boys love the virginal Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) until on a weekend away at a ranch owned by one guy’s father, they start turning up dead. It’s slasher countdown time from there.
It also happened to be the directorial debut of one Jonathan Levine, of 50/50 and Warm Bodies fame, whose career thankfully wasn’t waylaid by its delay. While his skills are far from polished, he has plenty of good ideas (in particular a killer POV vehicular rundown shot that manages to both be terrifying and oddly hilarious), and young Master Levine shows why his career has kept trending up and up and up.
I’m as surprised as you are that I’m putting Zombie Twilight at the top of that arc
As is fast become his hallmark, Levine assembles a great soundtrack of pop and classic music to set his film to, and makes the always correct choice to feature practical gore effects over CGI. He and the screenwriter have fun playing with genre tropes, even if this isn’t exactly The Cabin in the Woods as far as cleverness goes there, and even though you should have seen the big twist coming since it has more signs announcing it than a Montana highway exit, the ending does have some surprises in store. Among the actors, Heard gets to do more than she does in most of her ensuing career, and hey, look, it’s Hell on Wheels’s Anson Mount!
That twist (and really most of the plot) really are telegraphed more than descriptions of Samuel Morse’s dick.
Quite prodigious, by all accounts
Levine does a good job, but this movie has its growing pains for him as well. The washed out color scheme on display is uninspired and kinda ugly, and the shaky cam stuff was clichéd even back in ’06. Also, the Juno-lite dialogue is too cutesy for its own good, kind of like, well, Juno. No teenager I ever met talks like that, surry.
This super-delayed teen slasher flick is certainly worth the watch, especially if you’re a fan of what the cast and crew went on to do, but maybe just wait for it to hit DVD in like two weeks, probably.
Take a Drink: jump scare!
Take a Drink: whenever someone delivers a monologue
Take a Drink: whenever someone talks like one of them cheeky young’uns do
Do a Shot: whenever someone “strikes out” with Mandy Lane