All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2008)
Directed by Jonathan Levine

Starring Amber Heard Anson Mount Luke Grimes Michael Welch Whitney Able

A pretty decent slasher film that began hitting the festival circuit in 2006, got coverage in places like the New York Times, then disappeared off the radar following a bunch of rumored release dates. It finally hit DVD in Europe in July of 2008.

"All the Boys Love Mandy Lane" begins with an apparently accidental death at a pool party. Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) is the hot blonde girl all the guys at high school want to sleep with. After she's invited to a jock's pool party, her nerdy best male friend (Michael Welch) talks the drunk jock into jumping off his own roof into the pool to impress Mandy. The jock does, and the results are understandably disastrous and bloody.

Flash forward a year or so. Mandy is still going to high school. She's now invited to hang out at a small party at one student's ranch. She goes. Naturally the group of teens that have gathered are ready for drugs and sex -- except for Mandy, who is the virgin of the bunch.

Once again, things start getting out of hand -- only this time it's a guy in a hood and breandishing a shotgun who's doing the killing. Teens wander off for sex, and get offed in pretty gruesome ways. The teens' only protection is the studly hired ranch hand (Ansom Mount) who is a veteran of the first Gulf War.

Like so many other Sundance horror movies, "Mandy Lane" delivers a twist, one you may not see coming. The film is pretty good, but suffers a little bit from serious-itis. It takes itself way too seriously. From its indie rock score to heavy performances by angst-ridden, nihilistic teenagers, the film was custom made to impress on the A-level festival circuit. Unfortunately, as of this writing, it has had trouble getting out of that circuit, although it did enjoy a theatrical and eventual DVD release in Europe in 2008.

Had this film been made in the 1990s, it may have been a classic, playing on a lot of the disturbing teen angst we'd seen at Littleton and in films like "Elephant" and "Scream." As it is coming out in 2008 (after hitting the festival circuit two years earlier), it's very good but not great.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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