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All the Boys Love Mandy Lane

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane

Mandy Lane is a little flick that's been kicking around for sometime, trailers came out sometime last year only for the release to be withheld, and to be released now. Although this marketing wasn't a tactic, ironically, it's certainly worked as a plus; the initial sparks of interest from a well put together trailer were later stirred by it's re-emergence, perhaps the main draw to seeing yet another slasher. Post-Scream and amidst slews of over stylised MTV 70s horror remakes and gorno, slashers are easily dismissed these days as derivative trash and Many Lane treads familiar ground, the attractive teen virgin, lusted by peers, placed in an isolated location where her friends her slowly dispatched around her but it works, well.

Lane is nothing special in genre terms yet succeeds in it's competence which gives it strong ground to raise above recent horror. The most notable instance is revealing the killer early on, removing the overdone whodunnit element and red herrings, allows the characters more room to develop depth and interest. But of course, in a slasher no real emotion is invested in characters, most are portrayed as unlikeable and their deaths inevitable but it's balanced out by a more realistic depiction of the youth characters and activities, from drug use as character traits opposed to a cause to be followed by effect (i.e. death as drugs are bad) or over stereotyped characters. Another plus strike is a removal of exposition, yet this leads to some faltering where the killer lacks the development to make them truly frightening, an instance where the particular characters jump to killer was due some more explanation then what's given. While Mandy Lane doesn't hold any pretenses to being a typical horror slasher, arguably using this to avoid cliche, no suspension of disbelief can make the killer seem scary or threatening. While this would work well enough in a thriller, the time it spends happily in the horror genre compromise this.

For a lot of the film it seems unsure what it wants to be, from some decent scenes of gore only then to have off screen deaths, leaving a tinge of disappointment. The more momentum it gathers as it moves away from introducing us characters to killing them is frustratingly where it's weakest point is. As soon as the killer starts relying on a gun and becoming a flesh and blood person, instead of a seemingly supernatural force is when a slasher is in trouble and for me, arguably switches genre to thriller. There's not much to separate the genres and with a bit more intelligence, it could have worked; as one character dies from an off-screen shot it starts to ratchet tension up, the fear of the killer out of the camera shot thus out of control of the formal restrictions of the screen and what audiences control. For me it was the only moment i was actually engaged, sadly the moment isn't capitalised on as the killer comes into shot to chase the other victim, loosing any sense of fear, which sadly may appear that the prior inspired moment was more accidental than purposeful.

There are certainly enough reasons to recommend the film, it's cinematography captures a great gritty 70s aesthetic and the direction is surprisingly assured for the most part, if lacking in tension be grateful for the absence of overused 'jump' scenes. I wouldn't hesitate speculating it's release delay is due to recent High School massacres as it's eerily evocative of these more than any other teen horror, which (considering the ending that i won't spoil) is even more disturbing with the emergence of a recent suicide cult in the UK; it's surprising more haven't cited the film as playing in bad taste. Regardless of it's release context, it does stand above recent horror, if solely for it's simplicity and not relying on a gimmick; the ending wisely avoids one of the awkward and absurd twists excellent horror films like Dead End and Switchblade Romance were let down by. That's not to say the end twist is good, however, it did seem forced and after expecting a stupid twist i was almost disappointed there wasn't one.

Overall, there's some nice kills, some smart direction, better than average characters and is kept simple and while this stops it descending into trash it also stops it being anything truly special.