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By Jeremy Knox | July 14, 2008

2008 FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL FEATURE! The one good thing about a movie genre dying off is that, like Westerns or Film Noir, it becomes a rarified commodity; and when one comes out every blue moon it tends to be either be quality work at best or a really interesting failure at worst.

“All The Boys Love Mandy Lane” is a slasher film (Remember those?) about the titular high school girl, Mandy Lane, that is lusted after by all the boys in town, resulting in a tragedy at the beginning of the school year. By the time summer comes along she’s ready to make peace with her classmates and spend a weekend partying with them and maybe making some friends. However, someone else has other plans, none of which involve anything that resembles fun.

The thing about slasher movies is that people forget is that the early examples used to be teen sex comedies gone wrong, it wasn’t just a guy with a knife killing teens… Okay, wait, I can’t say that with a totally straight face. What I meant to say was that it mostly wasn’t just that. In fact, I always had the suspicion that a lot of the movies in that genre from the 1980-1984 era were recycled sex comedy scripts that weren’t all that funny, so the producers added a guy with a mask, and voila! You got your “Teenage Death Film.”

In any case, the thing that always appealed to me about these movies is that the ultimate lesson they taught the target audience of teens was that there are worse things than not being popular or not getting laid. Like, for example, getting a corkscrew stuck in your f*****g eyeball. That makes getting your pants pulled down in Gym class look pretty goddamn tame. So, in a way, all this murder and death is quite comforting to the typical high-schooler. It lets them know that life could suck a whole lot more.

“All The Boys…” teaches this lesson quite well, in various gruesome ways. In fact, the kills in this film are probably the cruelest and most sadistic of any slasher film I’ve seen, and not Freddy Krueger Muwahahahaha “evil”, but husband strangles infant son and then sinks his body in the cement foundation of the house “evil”.

Centermost in this film is Mandy herself, a sweet shy girl who was orphaned at an early age and whose careful demeanor is always mistaken by boys as playing hard to get. No one sees the hurt and loneliness that underlines her character and that distances her even more from her peers.

That’s another thing about slasher films, they tend to be about Female victimization and Male evil. It’s not easy for anyone to be a teen, but girls like Mandy have it hardest of all. They go from being ignored gawky twelve year olds to sixteen year old objects of lust for every male within a ten mile radius, all of whom suddenly turn in little more than a fully erect Cro-Magnon at the sight of them and desire little more than to be able to brag about sticking their c**k into their vagina.

That can’t be fun.

The film is well shot, having a nice orangey/tan “look” to it. The acting is above average, as is the writing. None of the teens is one-dimensional and all of them feel fairly real and fleshed out. Even the “Boys” of the title, as f*****g stupid as they are, have personalities drawn in shades of grey and aren’t just good or bad. You won’t mistake this for “Dazed and Confused” or anything, but it comes a shitload closer to that level of depth than a lot of films that have supposedly loftier goals than to scare the living s**t out of the post-tween crowd.

“Mandy Lane” isn’t a masterpiece by any definition, but it is a fine and well crafted piece of work that a lot of care and attention to detail was put into; and if you’re looking for a semi-cerebral horror film, you could do a hell of a lot worse.

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  1. Jeff Herbert says:

    The logic appears to be that Mandy had a bad time as a kid, raised by her aunt or some such.
    As a consequence of this and a with a preference for women over men, she engages with a High School nerd, to dispose of a gaggle of High Schoolteens on a ranch weekend.

    We are asked to credit the story with Mandy’s forbearance if not absolute encouragement while her nerdy friend knocks off a series of guys and girls from the ranch house.

    Mandy displays possible lesbian tendencies. From all of which we suppose she despises her hetero and junkie pals and is happy to see them anaihilated. Then at last gasp, she departs the suicide plot, murders here fellow suicider and runs off with the handsome ranch hand instead.

    And there’s the rub.
    Much in the filem is plausible, but the fundamental tenet is not.

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