That absolutely isn’t a typical Dan gay joke. This 2006 ‘horror’ movie has been hyped for so long as a standout slasher that I was dying for it to be released in the U.S. I finally blind bought the region-free Blu-Ray from the U.K. And I immediately put it up for sale on Amazon marketplace after I watched it.
I just don’t see the brilliance I read about. I don’t even see the horror. This film forces in a few ‘jump scares’ (figure suddenly flashes across the screen) and has two rather brutal scenes that would make Jason envious, but most of the killing is done with a fricking gun. This movie isn’t Scream—it’s Natural Born Killers. So I’m naturally going to load this post with spoilers….
Believe me, this film had potential to be a character driven slasher about teen insecurities. It’s flirted with in the slow-burning development. See, Mandy Lane is apparently the hottest virgin at school. All the boys want her. Her best male friend wants her. Her best male friend gets into an altercation at a pool party with another boy who wants her. The male best friend then convinces the other boy to jump off a roof into the pool to impress her. SPLAT. As the other kids scream at the best male friend in fury, Mandy just gives him this look that immediately has you thinking Mandy and her best male friend are in on it. Cut to nine months later, Mandy is hanging with a new crowd, they are headed to a secluded ranch in the woods, and Mandy’s ex-best male friend finds out where they’re going to be staying….
When people complain that “it’s so obvious who the killers are” on message boards, there are those who defend the film’s brilliance and say it’s not the ‘who’ that is so intriguing, it’s the why. The why isn’t so intriguing, either. And if it isn’t important who, then why do they keep the ‘killer’ in the shadows for the first part of the film? Structuring this much like a slasher film in the first half just to blatantly reveal the killer halfway through causes viewers to be annoyed that we guessed the killer. After all, experience with slasher films had us believing we were supposed to be wondering who it was.
And then there’s the problem with Mandy Lane. First of all, she acts weird from the beginning of the film. She’s so obviously not right. And yet all the boys want her. And what’s exploited is the fact that boys really do only think about sex. Because Mandy really isn’t all that! Sure she’s a cute blonde chick—but she has zero fricking personality! And yet the boys in the movie think she’s a slice of heaven—as do all the straight guys who post anything about this movie on the internet. Is it only gay guys who can see that she has ZERO charisma? She’s boring and plain, while all the characters around her are at least animated if not at all likeable.
The ‘characterization’ so many applaud in this movie is all about a bunch of miserable kids who hate themselves and don’t even seem to like one another. They go on this trip together—and NO ONE is having any fun! There isn’t one horny bubbly fricking drunk in the group. That’s just as unrealistic as every kid in Friday the 13th wanting to have sex and get high. If the teens committing the crimes are the monsters in this film, then shouldn’t we at least find something likeable about some of the victims? You could argue that the victims aren’t likeable in Friday the 13th, that they are merely there for the sake of raising the body count—to which I would say EXACTLY. We actually want Freddy and Jason and Michael Myers to hack n’ slash these brats. But if this Mandy Lane movie is so deep and has all this characterization and we’re supposed to believe the killers are this generation’s monsters threatening our quiet suburban life, shouldn’t we be able to relate to the victims and feel sorry for them???
Remember when slasher films were all about teenagers doing immoral things and then paying for it? Well, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is about teenagers doing immoral things—and then continuing to do immoral things. When I was a teenager, I wasn’t afraid of other teenagers. Are teens the new Jason, Freddy, and Michael Myers? Is it all Billy and Stu’s fault in Scream that we now have to watch horror movies about mass murdering teenagers? Eden Lake, The Final…these aren’t horror movies to me. They’re movies about rotten children who didn’t get enough hugs. If I want to see a movie about teens treating each other like shit, I’ll watch Pretty in Pink or Some Kind of Wonderful. If I want to see a horror movie with themes of teen angst, I’ll watch Teeth or Ginger Snaps, where the teen angst is metaphorically represented by an actual monster, which makes it a real horror movie. If I want to watch kids going around shooting other kids, I’ll watch the news…not All the Boys Love Mandy Lane.