I was going through the reviews I've sent you over the last year or so and at first thought I was going to be the 'good cop', with this film and Triangle, and admittedly the first Saw movie. Oh yes, I'm going to do the Saw movies, possibly all in one, once I've seen their impressive efforts towards retroactive continuity in Saw 6, 7 or whatever the latest one is. So yeah, me good cop, you bad cop? Well no, Twilight is in my list of things I'm going to be looking at.
I was in a horror mood, and decided to watch "All The Boys Love Mandy Lane" starring the lovely but unknown Amber Heard and a bunch of people even less well known than her.
This is actually shot really nicely. Blurred and surreal in some spots, but almost reactively trying to revert back to the standard slasher-flick faire and lazy direction. It's like if half the film thought it was Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park, there are moments where time just slows down, plays strange music and just sits there, watching Mandy Lane, but in more idolisation than voyeurism. That one-itis which happens in our teenage years, that beautiful girl who you just can't get. And that, the camera tells us, is Mandy Lane. Of course, alongside that is the fact that she has very few lines of dialogue. She's this thing which is unknowable, you can't really see what she's thinking, because you know it's not you, as that would break the illusion.
Anyway, enough of my baggage. We're introduced to a relatively small and barely sympathetic cast, starting with a poolside party. A loser kid who hangs out with Mandy and is evidently in the nonsexual best friend place, gets beat up by jocks, most of whom are trying to get off with her, too. Her best friend Emmett, then drinks on the jock's roof and when confronted, launches into a massive speech about how the jock is boring, he's bland, he's beige. Hell, he's not even beige, he's taupe. He convinces the jock to dive into the pool, which goes awry as the jock falls to his death. When it happens, we pan to where he should have landed, and his body flops into it, evidently from where it crashed into the poolside. Nice.
Nine months later, Mandy's not talking to Emmett because of that, instead she's with a bunch of girls who hate her and some boys wanting to cop off with her at a "dude ranch" in the middle of nowhere. So, typical high school as far as I'm aware.
We have a token black guy who fancies Mandy Lane. A boring jock guy (one born every minute in these films) who fancies Mandy Lane. A stoner guy who fancies Mandy Lane. A blond neurotic desperate for any attention and a brunette who's called 'fat' by the neurotic. Again, your usual gaggle of miscreants.
They drink, the neurotic takes some pills (her brother's, for his ADHD, apparently) and the 'fat' (quotation marks for Hollywood fat) girl runs off angrily. She goes down on the jockish type who refuses to return the favour and wanders off. Then she gets a quite grisly death scene with a shotgun butt in her mouth. Ick. I was wondering what the horrid crunching noise in that scene and naively thought the killer was eating a carrot, like Clive Owen from Shoot Em Up. But no, that was her. Again, ick.
The guys all cockblock each other while the girls seem more enamoured with the creepy farmhand. One of them stops the power, giving us a nice fake-out with the black guy not actually dying. Instead, the jock kid's evidently the person not getting any from Mandy, so he's voted out of the house and goes back to finish the job for the 'fat' girl. He drunk drives around, not killing himself, but instead going to a lake they all swam in earlier (Mandy in slow motion, natch). He finds the girl on her knees, alive? Dead? Whatever, it'll all be the same soon enough and he's shot by the same antagonist. Remember when bad guys were iconic, with claws or hockey masks or stuff like that? This one's in a hood with a shotgun. Anyone could be like that. An ambitious chav could pull of the look. Oh well.
The drunkard's car is driven up to the shack and fireworks are launched at the group. The person leaves, chased by the black guy. Oh look, it's Emmett. They have a brief chat, punctuated by a brutal fight and a nasty death. Of the black guy. If the killer died at this point, it wouldn't be much of a film.
The remaining kids (and Garth, the farmhand) hide indoors, trying to keep away from all the madness out there. Garth provides some backstory about having to kill a whole farm's animals at one point. Nicely unpleasant, but why? Why are you telling us this? It's too late in the film for anyone to have a sympathetic backstory.
The stoner and the neurotic girl start making friends, aww. I've just realised how llittle I've actually said about Mandy Lane here. Well, other than the guys trying to be the only one around her during a blackout, and her talking to the neurotic and taking some pill thing, that's about it. I admit, the part of me which is still an 18-year-old lech, was going "Kiss!" as there was some moments where they were far too close to not kiss. Still, it just teased.
Trying to leave in the morning, shots fire at them from offscreen, Garth is hit. The stoner tries heading out the back way, followed by the neurotic, so you KNOW they're being killed soon. If you leave the potentially-evil farmhand and the leading lady together, then you're the one who'll die next, basically. They run down a road, but the sense of despair even out in the open sunlight is still huge. As they stop to kiss, which normally seems contrite, but here I reckon it was because they knew they were screwed, so why the hell not, the stoner's shot. The girl runs off.
At the same time, Mandy Lane actually does something, and not all in slo-mo. Shocking. She leaves Garth and finds a knife, facing off against the morning sun like a warrior, like a Spartan! But no, she's not heading after the guy shooting everyone with a knife, let's face it, that'd be dumb. Instead, the dumb move is on the neurotic girl who runs to Mandy, onto the knife, and they hug until Emmett turns up in blurry, Paranoid Park effects, and watches Mandy drop the neurotic's body to the floor.
Shock, horror, it was their plan! Why? I don't know. Did I guess from the start? Well a couple of bits were telegraphed, but they kept it hidden well enough that when we saw the neurotic running towards Mandy, there was just this creeping feeling which was growing, instead of just yelling at the screen.
Apparently their plan was to kill all of them and then themselves, all romantic-like. Apparently Mandy's not planning for this and he didn't trust her enough to kill himself first. When she tricks him, the pair get into a fight, punctuated by a poor, confused Garth who dies (again). Mandy ends up falling into a big hole o' bodies. She ends up beating Emmett to death with a bit of wood, returns to Garth who is actually not dead (again), and leaves with him, pretending to be the only survivors of these horrid murders.
The last modern slasher movie I saw was Prom Night (the remake). It was terrible. There was no motivation, the characters were horrid, the killer was uninteresting and a good actor (Idris Elba) was underused.
In truth, replace Idris Elba with Amber Heard and you've got the same kind of thing. And yet this is much better. It's still not wonderful, but was the best modern slasher film I've seen in a while, somehow getting past my bullshitometer. The killer was a bit bland until the end where it all went a bit kablooey. The effects were mainly screwing with the camera, rather than anything special. The disfiguring and possible death of the 'fat' girl was a scene which will stick with me, horror-wise, and that's what I often repeat as being good with horror. Not the scenes which are just gore, but the ones which will haunt you.
Anyway, the filming was good, the acting was alright, despite the complete unknowns and the typically unlikable characters. Someone has to be able to do a good slasher movie these days. Deputy Dewey was a sympathetic character in the Scream Movies, and I always yelled at the screen when it looked like he was in peril. I can't see why that's not doable. And there was a scene where I think they all get drunk and/or high (signified by blurry camera effects), dance badly and, I think, spray squirty cream into their mouths. I think. Unless it's a some kind of special spray that's getting them high, but I've never heard of that. I don't know. I think that's the dumbest moment, but there's a lot more good than dumb. Although I've just spoiled the end act. Oh well, as some point I've also got the see the terribly-named "Wackness" by the same director. Not a horror movie, but his directoral efforts were good enough here that I might actually crack open that dvd finally.