Well, it's about #$*%ing time. One of the most irritating (and sometimes heartbreaking) things about working in this business is that while seeing something early, you also see it before it gets #$*%ed, sold, shelved and finally dumped by the roadside like Christina Ricci in Blacksnake Moan. In this case I'm talking about the indie, stalker-horror throwback All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
. It's a dark, twisted, sexy as all hell High School slasher in the middle of nowehere horror movie that is both an effective thriller and a visual love letter to an era of filmmaking long gone. Here, watch the trailer.
Evocative of both The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and 70's Argento, this love letter is a brutal, rough kick in the crotch that just feels very authentic and true not only to the genre, but to the reality it is mostly set in. The characters all feel like real honest to god teenagers, their actions and reactions exactly what you'd expect out of your friends or family. And as all hell breaks loose, they all show their true colors and freak the #*$% out in very real, very painful ways.
This is not an easy to watch film. Parents, especially parents of teenagers will find this hard to view. It is very frank about its sexuality, being both titilating and disturbing at the same time. These girls are messed up tangles of insecurity turned into #*$%toys by arrogant jocks trying to dip their wick at any and all points possible. And those girls use that sexuality to reinforce their own sense of being. Which of course causes a clash when the young Mandy Lane, the almost mythical virgin who knows exactly who she is and gets every bit of affection and affirmation these girls crave, begins to draw the gaze of their boyfriends. Every guy is trying to hit that and every girl is busy throwing themselves in front of that gaze in hopes of winning back some of that prized attention. Trouble is, while these six kids have gone out to the middle of nowhere to drink, #*$% and fight for a weekend, a seventh has followed them, also having set his or her sights on Mandy Lane.
Then bodies start dropping. And a tense, gritty, #*$%ed up fight for survival ensues, told with all the intelligence and craftsmanship you tend NOT to expect from a film this simple in plot. The cinematography is gorgeous and reminiscent of the very best of classic, 70's exploitation/slasher fare. Painted with washed out colors, grainy film and intentional sunflares, this thing is covered in the filth and mire of the Grindhouse era without being for a moment the wink and a nod that the film Grindhouse was. Closer in tone and execution to Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects, this bloody, disturbing stab at a hardon inducing film is just the type of smart, intentional fare that horror fans are always clamoring for.
And MAN did this thing get #*$%ed. Hard. I saw this a year and a half ago at SXSW and just went nuts for it. But when Grindhouse bombed, the Weinsteins took another look at this and felt it was too close to their recent embaressment dumping it instead to a small distribution company that proceeded to sit on it for another year. Why ANYONE thought it was a good idea to release it in the summer (when horror always fails) rather than, I don't know, two months later in OCTOBER, when even the $#*%iest horror sells, is beyond my #*$%ing comprehension. A film like this is going to get ignored and ultimately shunted to video only to be discovered by the rare few.
Be that few.
If you LOVE horror, I mean love it - enjoy a great, sexy, bloody romp and perk up at the names Fulci, Argento, Bava and Hooper, then this is for YOU my friends. A one of a kind, beautiful FULL PRICE movie for anyone who enjoys smart films presenting themselves as base, simple ones. However, if you're not one easily swayed by the notion of grit and grime with your blood, guts and boobs, you might want to shy away from this. For everyone else I give this a RENTAL, as odds are you won't appreciate the subtleties lying beneath the blatant exploitation, but you will find it smart enough to be worth a look.
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Average Joe rating:
ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE opens this Friday.