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All The Boys Love Mandy Lane

Amber Heard in All The Boys Love Mandy Lane

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

IT MAY work from an overly familiar premise – that of teenagers being slain by an unknown assailant – but Jonathan Levine’s All The Boys Love Mandy Lane proves itself to be a smarter than average entry into the genre.

Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) is the beautiful 16-year-old Texas angel that every red-blooded college male wants to get with. So, when she agrees to join some of them at a party at a remote ranch, the boys (including Luke Grimes and Aaron Himelstein) see it as their big opportunity.

Once there, however, they start to disappear mysteriously and it soon becomes clear that someone is stalking them – someone with their own special interest in Mandy Lane.

Levine’s film grabs the attention from the start by flirting with viewers’ own notions of horror cliches and ramping up the sexual edginess. His camera serves as a voyeur and lingers where it shouldn’t, just like some viewers’ eyes! But then it throws in a neat surprise as one of Mandy Lane’s potential suitors meets an untimely end while trying to impress at a pool party.

Thereafter, most of the action takes place at the ranch and while certainly formulaic in places the film slowly lulls the viewer into a false sense of security before revealing a couple of nice twists.

The death scenes are typically nasty and very gruesome, while Levine adopts a ’70s style approach to the raw, gritty cinematography that hints at exploitation era movie-making. It’s also jumpy as hell in places.

And while very few of the characters appear that sympathetic there are some nice performances among them to hint at some bright futures – Heard, in particular, does well as Mandy Lane, while Grimes, Himelstein and Whitney Able also impress.

At a time when a lot of horror movies exist purely to show how much gore they can show while going through the motions, All The Boys Love Mandy Lane at least appears to be trying to play around with the overworked genre. As such, it’s arguably the smartest teen slasher flick this side of the Scream movies despite some moments of over-indulgence.

Keep an eye on Heard and Levine, too. The former has the new Judd Apatow comedy The Pineapple Express and The Informers (from the Bret Easton Ellis novel) coming next, while director Levine has just won a top award at Sundance for his follow-up feature The Wackness.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 90mins
UK DVD Release: July 21, 2008