MandyLaneA 2006 indie that’s garnered a lot of attention because it took over six years to be released in its native country. In truth it’s a mildly diverting slasher flick with some striking elements, but not enough of them.

Why did the Texas lensed ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE take so long to be released in the U.S.? As I understand it, the film’s cash strapped distributor Senator Entertainment, who’d purchased the film from the Weinstein Company, shut down its distribution arm before MANDY LANE, or any of Senator’s other releases (which included the Julia Roberts vehicle FIREFLIES IN THE GARDEN), could be released. Since then the film has acquired a definite mystique (it was a popular item on the greymarket circuit) that has little to do with any qualities it might possess. It made its US debut in 2013, having been reaquired by the Weinstein Company.

The director Jonathan Levine has at least gone onto bigger and ostensibly better things, including the comedy 50/50 and the horror thriller WARM BODIES.

Mandy Lane is a blond high school virgin who’s lusted after by seemingly all the boys in her school. Foremost among her admirers is the nerdy Red, who together with five friends, Mandy among them, heads off for a weekend at a secluded cottage owned by Red’s father. Being complete jerks, the twerps all get into a big fight after one of the chicks makes fun of the size of a guy’s penis. A bit later that chick is killed when an unseen someone jams the butt of a shotgun down her throat.

One of the boys, a shithead named Jake, shorts out the power in an effort to clear the house so he can seduce Mandy. She rebuffs him and Jake heads outside, where he’s shot with the same shotgun that offed the now-dead girl.

At this point the killer reveals himself as a fellow high schooler who was severely injured a year earlier in a pool accident. He was trying to impress Mandy Lane, and remains obsessed with her, having tracked her every move…or so it seems.

Two more members of the group are offed the following morning, forcing the mousy Mandy to take charge. But then a shocking twist occurs that throws everything into an entirely new light.

This film, a traditional slasher in most respects, was shot in that ugly desaturated style that’s so chic these days (it’s supposed to denote gritty reality). That’s a strike against it, although director Jonathan Levine demonstrates a fair amount of flair. Note the assured visual style and the performances, which, surprisingly enough, are fairly strong.

That doesn’t change the fact, however, that none of the characters are sympathetic, including the aloof and self-absorbed Mandy Lane. Outside the obvious fact that she’s uncommonly good-looking it’s difficult to understand why everybody’s so hot for her.

Regarding the final 15 minutes, in which a twist is revealed, they do succeed in lifting the proceedings above the formulaic slasher programmer the film appeared to be. Yes, the twist is unexpected, but it’s also hopelessly implausible, and winds things up on an open-ended and unsatisfying note, perhaps in anticipation of a sequel that never arrived.

Vital Statistics

Occupant Films/The Weinstein Company

Director: Jonathan Levine
Producers: Felipe Marino, Joe Neurauter, Chad Feehan
Screenplay: Jacob Forman
Cinematography: Darren Genet
Editing: Josh Noyes
Cast: Amber Heard, Michael Welch, Whitney Able, Edwin Hodge, Aaron Himelstein, Luke Grimes, Melissa Price, Anson Mount, Adam Powell, Peyton Hayslip, Brooke Bloom, Robert Earl Keen