Did you like high school? Of course you didn’t. Which is one reason why the slasher film is popular among teenagers. It provides a form of escapism, away from the bullying, pop quizzes, teachers, and social awkwardness. Although they’re not as popular as they were a decade or so ago, they still exist, and still provide some good entertainment. Which brings me to All The Boys Love Mandy Lane, a new take on an old subgenre. Although it’s not groundbreaking, it’s a decent effort.
At first glance, this seems like a ‘by-the-numbers’ slasher flick. I certainly thought that myself, viewing it halfway through. Mandy Lane is the typical girl next door, well liked, and sought after. The popular athlete on campus, who catches the eye of every adolescent boy going through puberty. The characters that surround her are your typical token teenagers. They include the misfit who wants to be with her, the jock, the stoner, and the mall girl. Although this is a pattern that’s been repeated many times, it does work here.
The majority of the story takes place at a weekend retreat on a secluded ranch. The stoner’s parents have conveniently left town, and the group decides to take place in teenage hedonism. Like high school itself, the misfit isn’t invited. The teens slowly begin to be picked off, one by one. Once again, relying on that same formula that’s been recycled one to many time. Suspicion fall upon a mysterious ranch hand with a fondness for firearms. However, just when you think you have this puzzle solved, you’re thrown for a clever plot twist.
The film’s third act is what made it memorable. Just in case you’re wondering, I’m not going to give it away. The majority of the film suffers from a lack of suspense, and absolutely no psychological impact. However, the slow build up to the conclusion, makes it all the more effective. It isn’t as big of a twist as the one in Sleepaway Camp, but it’s pretty close.
Despite some flaws, it’s still worth the watch. A lot of modern horror consists of shaky camera movement, and found footage. This one employs a formula many of us are familiar with, and even improves upon it. It’s also nice to see good cinematography, and not something that tries to be like The Blair Witch Project. There just might be some hope after all.