All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, which has been sitting on a shelf since 2006 — during which time Jonathan Levine has made the heartbreakingThe Wackness, the brilliant 50/50, and the subversively sweet Warm Bodies — is finally seeing the inside of a movie theater this weekend. From what I understand, we can blame Quentin Tarantino indirectly for part of the delay — the Weinsteins, after the box-office failure of Grindhouse, decided not to release Mandy Lane back in 2006. They sold the distribution rights, and the movie has drifted around aimlessly until now (though, it has been easy to find, if you know where to look).
With Mandy Lane, Levine takes the slasher-film blueprint and, without necessarily doing anything original with it, has created a dead-teenager movie that you can appreciate not for its campy gloriousness, its machete gore, its body count, or even the T & A. In fact, he’s done something I’d never even considered before: He’s crossed Friday the 13th with … Heathers. Actually, the film’s scribe, Jacob Forman, should get credit for the ’80s mash-up, but it’s Levine that sells it. And, my dearest cockswallows, does he ever sell it. Mandy Lane is the tits.
The film opens at a high-school pool party, featuring a cadre of beer-swilling, twatwafflian douchesters of the popped-collar variety. One particularly odious jock has his eye on the sumptuous Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) and tries to break the face of Emmet (Michael Welch), Mandy’s Ducky (so to speak), after Emmet steps in on his date-rapey advances. A few minutes later, the drunken jackaass follows Emmet to the roof of the house, and Emmet convinces him that the only way to Mandy’s heart is by taking a header off the roof and into the pool. The result: One of the most unpleasant sounds I’ve ever heard in my life followed by a gallon of blood and one dead doucherag.
Nine months later, Mandy Lane has taken her rightful position among the high school’s Mean Girls and their pea-brained boyfolk. She’s also cast aside Emmet, apparently unsettled by his manipulation of the dead douche. Meanwhile, that weekend, quiet, lovely Mandy Lane and her new asshole friends decide to have a little drunk-n-fuck get together at an isolated ranch. Booze, drugs, and blowjobs are exchanged.
It isn’t until one-third of the way through the movie that you actually realize what Mandy Lane is: An almost by-the-numbers salasā fēlam. But there’s a big difference between Mandy Lane and your run-of-the-mill Friday the 13th knock-offs. Here, the killer’s identity is revealed fairly early on, and the motivation is seemingly apparent. But what’s impressive and so unusual about Mandy Lane is that the heroine isn’t a whiny, insufferable damsel, and the supporting players are never asked to play sacrifice-yourself-for-the-virgin. They’re self-absorbed pindicks and drunk assholes without an ounce of hero credibility. And yet, Levine creates so much tension that you squirm painfully when you see the same loathsome horny teenagers you’d be glad to see picked off in another slasher film and taken to the woodshed of afterlife.
It all culminates in an impressive twist that I never saw coming, and ultimately, demonstrates the potential of Amber Heard. It’s been seven years and a lot of trashy movies since Mandy Lane, but Heard has never been better.