All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)

I loved “Mandy Lane,” I can’t deny it. It’s damn good, probably one of the best slashers in the last ten years. A masterpiece? Nah, not really. But what it is is a strong and surprising slasher film with characters that are actually engaging to watch. All the while it sets us up for some of the most vicious kills I’ve seen since “Sleepaway Camp.” Humorously enough, “Mandy Lane” is exactly what I was reminded of while watching, because both films feel like two completely different genre fueled narratives.

On the one side, we have a movie about a gorgeous blond girl named Mandy whose own introversion is often confused for teasing which inspires all of the boys in her school to lust after her and often approach her with a stern hormonal aggression that make her uncomfortable and in result even more distant from the social circle she once belonged to. She’s a lonely, confused, and far off girl who wants people to see her personality and not her appearance, and writer Jacob Forman gradually delves in to the strong likelihood that Mandy is so utterly longed for because, and only because she’s so unattainable. Then there’s the other film, a disturbing and harrowing slasher flick and whodunit that may or may not be connected to a horrible accident that occurred months before. Worse yet, there’s question as to whether or not the killer is someone utterly obsessed with Mandy, or just looking to knock off these moronic teens while making them suffer.

Director Jonathan Levine stages some of the most violent murders on film in years that make every effort to depart from the camp and tedium we’ve seen in slashers like “Hatchet” or “Halloween.” When the victims suffer, we suffer, and when they hurt, we hurt. The performances are strong with much of the film devoted to awfully compelling characterization that works adamantly in garnering our attention and affection towards the increasingly annoying circle of friends who invite Mandy out at their ranch for the weekend. As bodies pile, we soon learn of the plight Mandy suffers as she inspires lethal obsession and vicious violence all for simply trying to unwind. She’s that inadvertent femme fatale with no way out of this predicament.

With some of the grittiest direction ever filmed in a slasher film (I was enamored with the car chase in the finale) paired with a dreamy awfully incredible soundtrack, “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” is that slasher film that will be set apart from the rest for years to come. It garners a twist ending that is so rich in gore and surprises that will stun many viewers who watch it unfold. Forman’s screenplay had me thanking the slasher gods for not tempting him to explain beat by beat what was occurring. Instead there’s a very healthy amount of ambiguity left long after the credits are over that will have you questioning the characters long after the credits have ended. Think of it as “There’s Something About Mary” with a twist of “Friday the 13th” and you have what I was surprised to find was a shocking, engaging and very entertaining horror drama with strong performances, and a really memorable dip in to a dying sub-genre.