Combustible Celluloid
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With: Amber Heard, Anson Mount, Whitney Able, Michael Welch, Edwin Hodge, Aaron Himelstein, Luke Grimes, Melissa Price, Adam Powell, Peyton Hayslip, Brooke Bloom, Robert Earl Keen
Written by: Jacob Forman
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
MPAA Rating: R for strong disturbing violence, pervasive drug and alcohol use, sexuality/nudity and language - all involving teens
Running Time: 91
Date: 10/11/2013

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Fine and Mandy

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Jonathan Levine made his feature debut with All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, and he has since gone on to make very good, entertaining movies like 50/50 and Warm Bodies. Like many others of his generation, he's clearly a horror fan and is paying tribute to a genre he loves, rather than shamelessly copying it for profit. The movie is well-made, with more effort placed on building tension than on creating bloody payoffs.

High school junior Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) doesn't drink, do drugs, or have sex, but is still an object of mystery and desire among boys. One young man invites her to a house party, and she agrees, but only if her best friend, the nerdy Emmet (Michael Welch) can come along. There, Emmet is involved with an accidental death, and Mandy stops speaking to him.

Months later, she is invited to a weekend party on a ranch, which promises much drinking, drugs, and sex. She decides to go, and tries to stick to her personal values. An older, alluring ranch hand, Garth (Anson Mount), begins to throw things off balance within the group, and before long, strange things begin to happen, and dead bodies begin turning up. Will Mandy survive?

The ending is fairly clever, but is not the story's major selling point. Rather, it's the Mandy Lane character that is the most interesting element. Traditionally, in slasher movies, the virginal girl is the "final girl," or the one who escapes punishment. Levine and screenwriter Jacob Forman create a character that's pure, but somehow still confident, alluring and mysterious. She provides the counterpoint for everything else in the movie, and Amber Heard's considerable screen presence is a key factor.

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane has been out of circulation not because of its quality, but rather due to distribution rights with companies that went out of business. Now that it's available, it could become a cult classic.

Anchor Bay released the official U.S. Blu-ray at the end of 2013, with a brand-new commentary track by Jonathan Levine, who has plenty of perspective on the making of the movie years earlier.

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