All the Boys Love Mandy Lane

For my inaugural horror picture of the 2012 Halloween season I chose ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE, an internet-acclaimed indie from 2006 that still hasn’t been released in the U.S. yet because it was bought by the Weinsteins, who proceeded to pull a Weinstein on it. But I rented the UK blu-ray. Rookie director Jonathan Levine went on to direct the also-pretty-good non-horror indie movie THE WACKNESS and last year’s Joseph Gordon Levitt/Seth Rogen/cancer dramedy 50/50. The titleistical Mandy Lane is Amber Heard, who has since played the hot girl in NEVER BACK DOWN, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, ZOMBIELAND, THE STEPFATHER and DRIVE ANGRY.

In DRIVE ANGRY Heard is a Daisy-Dukes-wearing hottie, but in 2006 she was 20 years old and looked very young and innocent. Mandy Lane is a cool but virginal girl who the boys of all social castes at a Texas high school have a boner for. She seems to keep to herself, not with the popular girls, but they beg her to come to parties, I guess to lure the boys for their use after she rejects them.

At first glance I didn’t think she was noticeably more attractive than the other girls. I thought the cutest one was the one that the other girls claim is fat. But then the camera lovingly embraces Mandy for a while, and she gets to be quiet while the other girls bicker and say idiotic things, and she only has to worry about brushing boys off, not desperately acting out to get their attention. So I started to believe it.

Most of the movie takes place on a rich kid’s dad’s ranch, where a group of horny popular kids are having a debaucherous weekend with only the apathetic supervision of a badass ex-Marine ranch hand named Garth (Anson Mount). There’s drinking, there’s blowjobs, there’s bitchiness and casual sexism. Sometimes it takes a turn for the Larry Clark: in a gas station bathroom the girls snort cocaine through U.S. currency and criticize one girl for having too much pubic hair. It’s an effective moment of vulnerability later on when this pretty horrible girl self-consciously trims herself. (There’s also a scene where a boy stares in a mirror and frets about his ugly chest and belly hair.)

That girl shouldn’t have taken any of that shit to heart. I mean what kind of an insult is “it’s like Sherwood Forest down there” supposed to be? Why choose that particular forest? You’re confusing the issue by making me think about Robin Hood. Sounds like you’re making some point about her cooch stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.

So you got your dumb teenagers, your sex and drugs, your isolated getaway, you even have one of their vehicles parked out of reach because she didn’t want to scratch it driving on gravel. This is a classical ’80s slasher movie setup. What I like is that it does that but it doesn’t otherwise fit the idea of a “throwback.” It’s not trying to stylistically remind you of that era or subgenre. It feels very modern indie drama in its natural lighting, tastefully documentarian camera work and use of music (although come to think of it some of that is pretty TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. And it’s filmed in Texas, too).

So, eventually some people get killed, and some other people try to survive, and then you find out a little more about what’s going on. But the horror parts fill less screen time than in most horror movies. The excellent opening sequence creates an atmosphere of doom without exactly being horror, and for a long time it just glides on that. Even though these characters are mostly jerks, somehow it’s compelling enough that I didn’t really notice that nobody was stabbing anybody yet. I just gave it the benefit of the doubt that it would get to it when it felt it was necessary.

As somebody fascinated by the slasher movie traditions I was real excited in a scene where an asshole receives a blowjob from a girl and then pointedly refuses to reciprocate for her. I thought this was great, this guy was now gonna get slashed, and it was gonna be a clever reversal of the old trope where women in horror movies are violently punished for their sexuality. This guy was gonna get it for not respecting her sexuality. But the movie has no interest in such justice, it punishes both of them, the girl more graphically than the guy. Disappointing, but I guess I can’t fault it for not being meta. That’s probly a good thing.

I swear she looks like Sissy Spacek in this picture. And why’d they photoshop pants onto her?

This is just a matter of personal taste, but I tend to have more fun watching a larger-than-life horror villain. Most of the icons are literal monsters, or they wear masks, or they’re unusually physically imposing. This movie, and alot of modern movies, seem to be going for more of a “this is how real psychopaths are” approach. They’re more influenced by Columbine than by HALLOWEEN or FRIDAY THE 13TH. And I get how that seems like a legitimate way to make a movie more scary, but to me it takes away some of what I like about horror. Alot of the horror I love is kind of a mythic tale about good getting the shit beaten out of it by evil but crawling out alive. This is more like messy reality: people are fucked up and do fucked up things for complicated reasons that we can only somewhat understand.

Or even if they’re just a human psycho, maybe they gotta be uncomfortably funny, like the guy in WOLF CREEK. This has only one such moment, when the killer is trying to run over a victim and it cuts to the inside of the car and he’s listening to some really ridiculous dance music while he does it.


This is probly one of those movies where some will feel the ending revelation of who the killer is is a betrayal. I sort of felt that way, because here’s this girl who’s been the only likable young person in the movie and then we gotta accept that actually she’s by far the worst one. We’ve seen how she had this troubled childhood but was strong enough to live through it and be a strong and mature person – nope, actually it fucked her up far worse than any of these other idiots. I think it’s a fair plot twist, it’s not a cheat, but it’s a bummer. So I wan’t entirely on board.

But that’s a great moment when she’s standing there gripping and re-gripping the knife as the girl runs toward her, the car behind it. And you don’t really know if she’s crazy enough to think she can take on this car using a knife, or if she’s actually in on these murders like you figured she might be. It’s a great bit of suspense.

When she stabs the girl it’s not all that big of a shock. They leave the identity of the killer a mystery until the end, but they don’t try too hard to hide it. You figure okay, most likely suspect is the former friend from the beginning. They probly want you to consider the ranch hand, but you know that wouldn’t be an interesting solution to the mystery. More likely is the guy from the beginning actually being alive and coming after them for revenge, but this doesn’t seem like that kind of movie either. So yeah, it must be that kid, and I sure hope Mandy isn’t in on it too, but I’ll wait and see.

Anyway, this one’s pretty solid. Somebody should, like, release it.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 at 2:41 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

42 Responses to “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane”

  1. Is it me or are there more and more movies having trouble to get a US release, while they are already available for years in Europe? I mean, this, SOLOMON KANE, Joe Dante’s THE HOLE, a pretty lame Michael Vartan/Sean Astin/David Cross office comedy named DEMOTED and I’m sure there are also one or two others. Not that I, as a European living in Europe really care, but seriously…what’s up with that?

  2. oh man, I remember reading about this movie ages ago, I totally forgot about it and had no idea it’s STILL not released in the U.S. (and I guess at this point never will be)

  3. Actually, Senator bought the rights to this movie, then promptly went bankrupt because of The Informers (Another Amber Heard starring film). The Weinstein’s picked it up afterward…and then did nothing with it. But, it did jumpstart the careers of the producers, the director and several of the actors, so it really doesn’t matter that it never got released because everyone involved made money and got to go on to do bigger and better things.

    That said, this is one to see with an audience. There is an eye-cutting scene that made my Comic-Con audience freak the fuck out.

  4. @Vern— OK, I had to turn this one over in my mind a bit, but here goes: I’m betting the girl who blows the asshole dude (who then refuses to lick her) is the same girl who earlier got ragged on for having a big bush. Any guy who’s ever gone down on a girl with a big bush understands what I’m talking about. It’s not quite on the level of difficulty as, say, the obstacle course Dr. Jones has to navigate enroute to the Chachapoyan Fertility Idol in Raiders Of The Lost Ark… but it’s still an unnecessary hassle. Added to which, if you linger too long down on the box of a girl with a big bush, you run the risk of (to quote the late, great Sam Kinison) “going to work the next day lookin’ like you fell off your bike on the way to school”.

    IMO, this one simple rule should be at the top of the to-do list for girls sex ed classes in today’s public school systems: SHAVE THE BUSH. Don’t just trim it; get rid of it altogether. It would save all concerned a lot of nuisance. Anway, it’s good to know there’s a movie out there with the chutzpah to address this small but nagging problem.

  5. Get rid of it altogether?! Hell no!

  6. Larry, you extend that pubic (typo but I’m keeping it) service announcement to the fellas as well, you’ll have my support! Nothing worse than having to look through the forest for the tree and coming up sounding like a cat wih a hairball in its throat.

  7. Okay, thank you Larry for leading directly into my comment, in which I say: Ladies, LEAVE THE BUSH ALONE. NATURAL IS BEST. I mean, my god, how did this happen? How did pubic hair become this Cronenbergian body horror that girls are now supposed to be ashamed of?

    To continue the Raiders metaphor, the untamed bush is that which Dr. Jones must penetrate to reach the gates of the temple, and finally score the golden idol of fertility deep at the end of the sacred tunnel. It’s part of the adventure! Who just mows down the luxuriant forest with giant sawblades and leaves barren wasteland behind, marked with stubble and razor burn? THE COMMIES, THAT’S WHO! Natural is Raiders, shaved is Crystal Skull!

    Anyway, seriously….I find myself utterly bewildered by this…trend, I guess. I dunno. I can’t understand why people just accept it.

    (By the way, funny story I heard recently about….some recent horror movie, Turistas, I think…..They made this replica body of one of the actresses for a scene where her character’s nude corpse is discovered, and when she saw it her first comment was, “Okay, guys, if you wanna be accurate, I have MUCH more hair then that down there.” A moment later the call went out on the walkie: “Can makeup bring the yak hair to set? We gotta make some modifications to the prop body…” : )

  8. People of both sexes, hear me now and know the truth: Just trim it down to a half-inch or so. Stubble burn is worse than a few stray hairs.

  9. I will jump on the trim train. (Hee.) Shaving causes nasty bumps and ingrown hairs. But I still say it needs to be applied to all.

    And my guess is that the “fat” girl gets killed in a way that involves her mouth or stomach.

  10. As I said, my proclamation of eternal wisdom applies to men, too. Not only is it just more considerate to your partner, who’s obviously a really swell person to be going down there in the first place, but it also makes your junk look more impressive because you don’t get that “fire hydrant in a snowbank” effect. And it cuts down on funk retention.

    I guess I should probably track this movie down, since it has so much to say about our changing social mores.

  11. A friend of mine recommends the trim as it gives the illusion of something called ‘the optical inch’. (He’s male btw)

  12. I wonder if the rest of Vern’s picks have a theme of alerting people to other important issues of hygiene awareness. Like Freddy making sure we chew our food properly in Dream Child.

  13. This comments thread went for walk in the woods of fucked up. I’m not sure if it’s ever coming back.

  14. Well, maybe if somebody trimmed the woods down to a reasonable length we’d be able to find our way home.

  15. The completely shaven look. Also known as the “Amber Alert”

  16. Majestyk: Wouldn’t trimming to look bigger be a dead giveaway that somebody needed it too look big? Like wearing platform shoes?

    Save the forest! “Into the woods / without delay / to start a quest / to find a way….” (sincere apologies to Stephen Sondheim.)

  17. Look at every porn star. These guys have toddler legs growing out of their groins and they still shave down to the quick. I don’t care how justifiably confident you are: Everybody can use that extra inch.

  18. Mr. Majestyk – That reminds me of an ex that told me she almost gave up on men due to the trauma of the odor from the mini fro the guy she saw before me had between his legs. Said that shit was funkier than a Parliament record. I always maintain a good trimming regimen out of consideration. Otherwise it’s hard to get repeat customers when it comes to hot chicks and you have to end up settling for the fat ones.

    I’ve heard of this movie for a hot minute but have never seen it anywhere. It’s almost like an urban legend. It should at least get a VOD release because lots of people love Amber Heard.

  19. Majestyk: Man, I think people looking too pornstars these days, male and female, is half the problem. They don’t represent anything even close to normal human sexuality…..

    Broddie: There are these great new inventions called soap and water. That works too.

    I’ll toss out there the fact that the ancient Egyptians and the classical Greeks also used to pluck, trim, and wax their sexual hair–it’s even mentioned twice in Lysistrata–so, I guess people can claim to be part of a historical tradition if they want….Anyway, moving on to Mandy Lane, I had suspected it too be a full-on disaster that was basically unreleasable but, no, it sounds fairly decent. I suspect it’ll ultimately get released in some form, if only to slip out on video. Here’s a question: How many films have gained a significant audience response and critical appreciation without ever being officially released in the US? Off the top of my head I can’t think of any others besides Leonard Schrader’s THE KILLING OF AMERICA (which is very definitely worth a review, Vern).

  20. I’m not complaining Vern(and this doesn’t just apply to you), but I’ve never really understood why Halloween is a topic worthy of a whole theme month with review sites and pop culture things in general. It’s not an important or very culturally meaningfull holiday at all, and it doesn’t even have the sort of lead up of anticipation and preparation as Christmas does. Oktoberfest arguably has more merit than it.

  21. Halloween is HUGE in America, Stu. I already knew what costume party I was going to a month ago. People plan their costumes months in advance and spend a lot of time and money on getting them right. A family of artists across the street from me puts on a crazy Halloween pageant every year that shuts down the entire block all day. They record original music, erect a giant stage, sell T-shirts, the whole nine. Last year about 2000 people came. And that’s just one random event in a not-very-famous neighborhood in Brooklyn. Every bar has a Halloween party. Every channel has horror-themed programming. There are decorations everywhere. I’d say it’s in the top three or four holidays.

    Also, it’s a holiday that celebrates horror, which is awesome. If Easter was all about people getting stabbed in the face and getting their insides masticated by werewolves and shit, I’m sure Vern would devote a whole month of reviews to it, too.

    Speaking of which, Vern, if you can find it, watch THE MUTILATOR. I’ve recommended it before, but I really think it’s the weird, gross little gem your yearly Slasher Search has been looking for.

  22. I remember quite liking this one. Amber Heard is always worth staring at and Levine has turned out to be a very good director. Too bad about the distribution woes. I’m always amazed at how the US will miss out on films that have been out for years in the rest of the world. Really strange.

    Speaking of the rest of the world, I was on location of the new Mad Max movie in Namibia last week. Trust me, fellas, it’s gonna be huge. Those vehicles are insane, and Tom Hardy’s gonna nail that part.

    Also, didn’t you guys know that trimming your lady’s pubes is the new equivalent to painting her toe nails? That shit’s romantic, man.

  23. The Original... Paul

    October 3rd, 2012 at 3:40 pm


    I really liked this one. The characters weren’t totally despicable (most of them, anyway) and although some are pretty fucked-up, none of the kids really come across as annoyingly unlikeable.

    Was there even SUPPOSED to be any mystery about who the killer is though? In the very opening scene we see some poor dude get set-up for a (literal) fall by these two kids. There’s no question about who’s responsible for his death, it’s right there. Unless you somehow manage to avoid thinking “wait, the death of that guy at the beginning that didn’t seem to have much to do with anything – maybe it was deliberate, and the same people are responsible for what’s happening now?” then I don’t see how there’d ever be any doubt about it. I mean, I joked about them giving away the identity of the surprise killer in “Speed” when they had him stab a security guard in the head in the opening scene, but this one really is that obvious.

    And I know some obvious ones get by me – I’m the guy who missed working out the identities of the villains in “The Faculty”, and that Bruce Willis / Dennis Farina movie that I can’t remember what it’s called but has him on river patrol with the girl from “Sex and the City” who I can’t remember what she’s called either. (Even Vern, who doesn’t tend to analyze the whodunnits like I do, mocked that last film mercilessly for how obvious the villain was. And I missed it.) This always struck me more like one of those movies where you know exactly whodunnit, even if it’s not confirmed until late on, and the fun is watching them interact with the other characters and just get away with blatant shit. Like “Cherry Falls”. (“You sure you want to help with my trunk? It’s going right down into my basement.”)

  24. The Original... Paul

    October 3rd, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    And that Bruce Willis movie was called “Striking Distance”. Vern reviewed it some time ago.

    If you didn’t read my last post because of spoilers, this movie is absolutely worth seeing if you’re into quasi-realistic teen horror flicks. It’s predictable but it’s good.

  25. The Original... Paul

    October 3rd, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    “All the boys…” is worth seeing, I mean. I gotta choose my pronouns more carefully.


    Well yeah, but the opening death was ambiguous as to how intentional it was. The kid being abandoned as a friend makes him the obvious suspect, but usually in slasher movies it doesn’t end up being the obvious suspect.

    More importantly, the other killer is supposed to be a surprise, right? Like I said in the review it was not a total shocker, but I think it was intended to be.

  27. The Original... Paul

    October 3rd, 2012 at 4:29 pm


    Vern – yeah, but there are literally only two kids in the whole place who are egging him on. If they’d had everybody at the party screaming at the guy to do this suicidally dangerous thing then it might’ve been less obvious maybe. The way it was filmed, which may not have been intentional, I never thought there was any real chance that she wasn’t in on it. Then when they revealed the first killer so early on in the movie, it just became that much more obvious that there had to be more to it than just him. It didn’t spoil the movie for me at all because, for me, the fun was knowing who to watch out for, and therefore enjoy seeing them get away with all kinds of blatant shit (and this character gets away with a LOT of blatant shit in this movie. The scene with the two girls in the bathroom immediately comes to mind.)

    However, this: “Usually in slasher movies it doesn’t end up being the obvious suspect.”

    Think I’m gonna call you out on that one. Hell, in the original “Scream”, they made fun of the fact that it’s always the boyfriend, and then had it turn out to be both Sydney’s AND Casey’s (Drew Barrymore’s character’s) boyfriends. I’d say that in at least half the slasher movies I’ve seen (which is a helluva lot) the “obvious” suspect is the right suspect.

    If you remember, the reason I was kinda annoyed at “My Soul to Take”, despite enjoying it for its absurdity, was because they’d bafflingly set up an intricate and well-plotted family mystery that hinged on who the previous killer’s relatives were (which I’d actually seen through not long before it was revealed, which to my mind is the best way you can have it – if the mystery is too obvious too early on then there’s no suspense, but if it’s not telegraphed at all then it feels as though the movie’s being “dishonest” when it pulls back the curtain) but then pulled a third-act switch and gone “yeah, you were right about all of that family stuff, but actually it’s got nothing to do with the identity of the killer, who by the way is the white guy who looked like the obvious suspect from the start of the movie.”

  28. Because SCREAM, I think you know, is purposely trying to play with slasher formulas. And the slasher formula they’re playing with is the whodunit slasher mystery ala the first FRIDAY THE 13TH, PROM NIGHT, etc. In these movies they set up a number of possible suspects from the crazy old man that warns everybody to a jealous boyfriend to whoever. I’m sure you know the term “red herring.” The reason it has a term for it is because it is a thing that exists, that they do in mystery stories.

  29. Jareth Cutestory

    October 4th, 2012 at 7:10 am

    Wait, you guys take your clothes OFF during sex? I thought this was a plushie forum!

    Majestyk: In fairness, some parts of New York have to work extra hard on Halloween just to distinguish themselves from all the CHUDS walking around on any given night. You know what I’m talking about; you’ve been to Yonkers.

    Talk about “changing social mores”: I saw this poster for some new version of what I assume is the old BEAUTY & THE BEAST tv show. The only thing that made Mr. Beast at all beastly was an artful mascara scar drawn along his face. It looked more like a Mike Tyson’s tattoo than a real disfigurement. Apart from that he was a typical pouting pretty boy. Forget the eradication of body hair; I’m far more concerned about the eradication of Ron Perlman from our shared culture. Fuckers.

  30. Take solace, my man. Ron Perlman is similar to (weird comparison, it must be said) William Shatner in that he is, very much deserving of, a place in American pop culture history, cutting across a broad swath. Compare Sons Of Anarchy with the Hellboy movies with Beauty & The Beast. There is NO COMMON FACTOR there… except Perlman. And I’ll be fucked if I can explain why it’s there. It IS there, and will always be. The “no good reason” category (for all things) is a small one… but Perlman’s in it.

    The best part is that there will be SOMEthing significant beyond Sons Of Anarchy that will further connect him. Count on it. The man’s not at the top of the list, but he will remain viable & interesting in the realm of pop culture until his last breath.

    YES, I like Ron Perlman. I am biased towards him. But I’m also very much not alone in my thinking.

  31. Jareth Cutestory

    October 4th, 2012 at 9:37 am

    We may stand on opposite sides of the shaving issue, Larry, but I’m glad we can come together on Perlman. The guy is an American treasure, and if the Americans don’t use him properly, it should be fair game for Canada to claim him. He’d be a god among children up here. We’d give him his own castle and an army of burly men.

  32. The Original... Paul

    October 4th, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Vern – there were red herrings in “Mandy Lane”? Honestly, did you ever think the killer could be anybody but who it turned out to be?

  33. The Original... Paul

    October 4th, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Actually, y’know what, I’m gonna continue this debate via e-mail. I don’t want to give away the endings of a whole bunch of slasher movies these guys may not have seen yet.

  34. Paul: Slasher movies often have red herrings. In MANDY LANE a character could be “obviously the killer” or could be a red herring, you don’t know until you get to that point in the movie. It is very simple and you understand it. Stop confusing yourself just to have something to express an opinion on.

  35. I haven’t seen it but I have always wanted to. I do know that it doesn’t go the way I thought it should go. Instead of one killer, everybody should have been trying to off one another in efforts to be the one to be with Mandy Lane. Also, you should watch The Pool for your slasher watching purposes.

  36. The Original... Paul

    October 5th, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Vern – I’m not arguing that red herrings exist, I’m just pointing out that they don’t apply here.

    To me, a red herring is a person who exists within a film’s narrative structure either partly or wholly for the reason of being a “false suspect” – somebody who we think could be the killer, but actually isn’t. For the entire second half of “Mandy Lane” there aren’t any of those for the simple reason that we know who the (primary) killer is, through having seen them openly kill somebody. The mystery from this point on becomes more of an “is she or isn’t she” deal than a “who could it be”.

    Now I’d argue that the opening scene pretty much invalidates anybody else from being a red-herring either. That’s a matter of subjective opinion, I guess. There are films with what seem in retrospect to be really, really obvious mystery elements – “The Faculty”, “Striking Distance” – that I completely missed. So I completely get that people might not “get” the significance of that opening scene. All I can say is that it seemed to make it really obvious what was going on, MAYBE intentionally so; enough anyway that it’s not so much a guessing game as a game of “catch me if you can”, where you know who to watch and the interesting part is seeing what they can get away with. But that is, as I said, a very subjective point. You may see it differently, I’m not going to say you’re wrong. I’m just laying out my thoughts here.

    Also I’m not trying to be snarky or argumentative for the sake of it here; I’m a fan of slasher movies, I enjoy debating stuff like this. Cut me a bit of slack please!

  37. When you watch the movie you don’t know if suspect X is obviously the killer, or if they are making he/she seem obviously the killer because he/she is a red herring.

    I will only explain this five more times before I snap

  38. The Original... Paul

    October 5th, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    …Were we watching different versions of the movie? Because in the one I saw, we gets to see exactly who the killer is. And I don’t mean a shape in the darkness or a silhouette on a wall or whatever. The killer openly comes up, speaks to one of the victims, then kills them dead. No ambiguity, no mystery. This isn’t the first victim but it happens fairly early on.

  39. The Original... Paul

    October 5th, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    …And IMDB’s synopsis bears me out here.

    I’m very confused right now.

    SPOILER etc. don’t read this

    The killer is revealed for sure maybe 2/3 of the way in (maybe a little earlier), then the other killer is revealed in the last 5 or 10 minutes.

  41. The Original... Paul

    October 6th, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Maybe I’m remembering it as earlier than it was then.

    In any case… yeah, a character COULD have been thought of as a red herring, for sure, I just never thought so myself. Again, subjective point here. I’m talking about my own experience with the film, not about what you factually “know” or don’t know. So please don’t snap at me again!


    Vern, I think the term you’re looking for is “double bluff”, and I agree that the film executes one.

    Liked the film, didnt like the anachronistic bland ’90s college rock. The ’70s-folk-music-ironically-played-when-something-horrible-is-happening that they did a couple of times was also a bit dated, but at least it fit the style of the film and at least it wasnt more bland college rock.

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