Neil Young once asked if it was better to burn out than to fade away? In the case of Jonathan Levine’s long-delayed feature debut “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane,” the answer is crystal clear: fade away, as quietly as possible.
First screened at the Toronto Film Festival in the fall of 2006 and delayed from theatrical release once again as of May 6, 2009, “Mandy Lane” is one of those low-budget horror movies that’ll become more infamous, not unlike “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation,” for having been an early starring role for some of its leads than for anything within the film itself. Not that I am insinuating Amber Heard will become an Oscar-winning actress like Renee Zellweger or Michael Welch will become a rom-com whore like Matthew McConaughey. Heard is a pretty enough girl, but that’s all she has going for her, and Welch, to be completely honest, is a lost memory. Not just two and a half years after seeing the movie, but even the very next day. In fact, everything about “Mandy Lane” was so awful — the acting, the writing, the direction, the camerawork, the sound mix, the costumes, the music and everything else in between — I have willingly chosen to avoid anything anyone connected to this movie has completed since then. It’s going to take something really special to make me change my mind.
As for the plot, it revolves around a group of high school kids who head out to a secluded ranch to party, only to find themselves being knocked off one by one for something that happened during the movie’s preface. And being a modern mystery/thriller, “Mandy Lane” can’t just be a straightforward treatise. It must have itself a plot twist somewhere that throws the story in a different direction. But what happens when the writer throws that twist in too early in the story, like before the first half of the film is over? Well, you just know it’s a fake-out, that the real twist is coming later… and you’d be correct. In a nutshell, it’s just a bunch of dumb, horny, drunk and drugged-out privileged kids getting some kind of twisted comeuppance for being they are dumb, horny, drunk, drugged-out and privileged.
That’s a basic summary: dumb kids doing dumb things for dumb reasons. You might actually see for yourself someday, when it finally makes its belated DVD premiere somewhere down the road, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.Rating: F