Monday, March 9, 2009

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane

And one of the girls, too (I'll get to that, later). "All The Boys Love Mandy Lane" is a horror flick I've been waiting to see for a couple of years now, believe it or not. Made in 2006, it struggled to find a distributor in the US, and most did not get to see it until last year. And it took until now, it seems, for the movie to make it to Australia. I must say it was worth the wait, as it is one of the best horror films I've seen in some time.

The deceptively simple plot has Mandy (Amber Heard) agreeing to go along with some friends to an isolated ranch in the country. Most of the guys see it as an opportunity to get into Mandy's pants, but she's not having any of it. She maintains a polite distance while all the others get down to the sort of stuff you'd expect from teenagers not under any adult supervision: sex and drugs. As the night wears on, it appears somebody is so in love with Mandy they're willing to kill for her.

However, there is so much more going on here than just your typical slasher. The cinematography is amazing. The film has a sort of hazy, washed-out look to it that to me seemed both modern and yet evoked feelings of 70s grindhouse features. The script examines the hang-ups males and females have about their bodies; mens' attitudes (often negative) towards women; how those attitudes frequently lead to women being their own worst enemy (two of the female characters, supposedly friends, are horrible to each other, simply because they're competing for a guy); teen herd mentality and a whole lot more. I'm not going to give away the ending, but while not entirely ambiguous, it lets the viewer come to their own conclusions about characters' actions and motives. Basically, the script doesn't lay it all out for you, which is refreshing in this day and age of simplistic stalk-n-slash offerings like the (gasp!) remake of, say, "Prom Night".

That's not to say the script is full of witty dialogue like "Scream". Rather, it presents teenagers pretty much like they are: boring, self-involved and quite intolerable. But that's the point. If you can handle a few moments of cringe-inducing violence (like you would expect in a slasher, after all), "All The Boys Love Mandy Lane" is definitely worth a watch. It's not just a good horror film, it's a good film, full stop. Why it took more than 2 years for it to see the light of day is a real mystery.

Oh yeah, and that little tidbit about one of the girls loving Mandy Lane, too? That was a tease. There's no lesbo action. Just one scene - like many others - that can be interpreted in many different ways.

I happened to watch another movie last night - "While She Was Out" starring Kim Basinger as a put-upon (and perhaps abused) wife and mother who ventures out to the shops on a rainy Christmas Eve to get some more wrapping paper. When she comes across a car that has sloppily parked across two parking bays, she leaves a narky note for the driver, not really thinking much of it. But when she finally returns from her shopping expedition, she comes to regret that spur-of-the-moment decision. The car belongs to a group of four thugs who don't like the note she left them. In fact, they're downright mad about it and start behaving threateningly towards her. Intervention from a security guard results in the leader of the gang (Lukas Haas) shooting him in the head. Of course, Basinger is now a witness and must be eliminated.

There are some moments of tension as the gang of four chase Basinger, who has only a toolbox at her disposal to protect herself. But I must admit the film wasn't as good as I was hoping it to be. Kim Basinger is excellent. I never thought I'd say that about her, but she really delivers here. I dare say her performance is the best part of the film! One big negative is Lukas Haas as the main baddie. You might remember him as the little child witness in "Witness". He was not believable in this role for one second. Luckily, Basinger's fear of his character was believable (she's that good). The movie is a servicable thriller for the most part until the final confrontation between the two main characters. Both their actions are hard to understand, and certainly not realistic. Even more puzzling is the final few moments of the film. But you can discover that for yourself because, at the end of the day, fans of women-in-jeopardy thrillers will find something to enjoy here - it plays a lot like a more-violent-than-usual TV movie. And I love TV movies, so I found more positives than negatives.

And here's what I'll be watching tonight: "Solstice", "Mirrors" and "Vacancy 2". Yeah!

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to see the Kim Basinger film, even though from what you've written it should make me worry about all the times I've given someone the finger in Woolies carpark (aka bogan heaven). Your reviews are excellent, I look forward to reading them. Don't suppose you could review the occasional non-slasher/horror movie could you?