Main cast: Amber Heard (Mandy Lane), Anson Mount (Garth), Whitney Able (Chloe), Michael Welch (Emmet), Edwin Hodge (Bird), Aaron Himelstein (Red), Luke Grimes (Jake), Melissa Price (Marlin), and Adam Powell (Dylan)
Director: Jonathan Levine
Mandy Lane and Emmet, her best friend, were considered uncool and therefore couldn’t fit in with the popular kids in their school… until Mandy finally outgrows her awkward adolescence over the summer and returns to school looking more like a stunning princess than an outcast. Naturally, all the popular jocks are now angling to get to know her better and she finds herself invited to all the coolest parties in town.
When the story opens, we see Mandy in one such party, but she is clearly more comfortable in the company of her friend Emmet than she is with her new friends. The party ends with a blast when Emmet manages to convince a besotted jock to impress Mandy by jumping off the roof. The fool does just that and dies a most pointless death as a result. Oops.
That doesn’t dampen Mandy’s reputation as the girl every guy wants to score with, so she’s still cool with them. In fact, she seems to have cut off ties with Emmet after that “tragedy” at the party. The fun really starts when Mandy joins a gang of kids to a party at the ranch belonging to clique leader Red’s father. While Mandy begins what seems like a creepy romance with the ranch hand Garth (especially when she’s supposed to be still in high school), the others begin to get murdered most violently one by one. Has one of the boys who love Mandy Lane finally lost it?
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane can be compared to teen-oriented slasher movies like Scream if you want to go down that route, because there are plenty of similarities, from the self-conscious attempts at “clever” twists to the ironic embrace of stereotypes and clichés of movies of that genre. However, this movie is definitely more subtle in its tongue-in-cheek humor than, say, Scream, and the twist is definitely far more believable as well.
This movie also sees some pretty good acting from its lead characters. Amber Heard is appropriately cold and heartless as her character toys with the inflamed lusts of the jocks who want her bad, as if she’s sharing a wink with the audience while she indulges in payback for what seems like a lifetime of being made to feel that she doesn’t fit in. Mandy Lane is so distant and unlikable, and yet, it makes sense that she is still considered hot property. This is, after all, high school we are talking about here. Anson Mount, however, is completely wasted in his role as he could very well be a block of wood here. The villain is a realistic one, which makes him even more menacing because he’s the kind of villain that anyone can be if that person is pushed too far.
Sure, this movie has some problems. It tries too hard to be clever at many moments, only to end up being unnecessarily complicated. But it manages to remain entertaining and often chilling at times, especially as a movie about the inhuman lengths that teenagers can go when it comes to punishing or getting back at each other. The ending may be a melodramatic one in a different movie, but here I find myself mulling over it for a little while longer after the movie has ended. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, yes, but really, she’s really not bad at all.