It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"All the Boys Love Mandy Lane" is probably more famous for its tortured exhibition history than for the content of the film itself. The teen horror flick premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2006 and is only now seeing the light of day, after various distributors juggled it about and delayed its release.
"Mandy Lane" is also the debut feature from director Jonathan Levine, who went onto greatness with "50/50" (and had mixed results with "The Wackness" and "Warm Bodies"). And it features a young Amber Heard in an early starring role as the title character, a high-school goddess who's a tantalizing mix of beauty and purity. So there's a bit of a cult fascination about this film, or at least a curiosity, among a certain segment of fervent moviegoers—or at least horror aficionados.
Its attempts at examining and subverting the well-worn conventions of the genre in the script from Jacob Forman might have seemed more novel seven years ago. But by now we've seen this approach executed much more effectively—and thrillingly—in films like "The Cabin in the Woods." While some of the kills are sufficiently clever and gnarly, "Mandy Lane" is never particularly frightening. And the twist at the end raises the wee issue of character motivation—or lack thereof.
The film begins with the legendarily untouchable title character walking down a school hallway in slow motion. (Levine is one of the many boys who love Mandy Lane, and who could blame him?) Her only true friend seems to be the scrawny, nerdy Emmet (Michael Welch). That night, the two reluctantly attend a pool party where everyone hits on Mandy Lane, including the idiot-jock host, who goes beyond throwing himself at her to get her attention. He throws himself into the swimming pool—with disastrous and bloody results.