Hello folks and welcome to the Valentine’s week edition of B.L.O.G. I am spotlighting a film that I have been wanting to ‘BE MINE’ for a number of years now. It has sat on the shelves, played the festivals, and been shuffled around by the Weinstein’s, but I finally, by hook and crook, got my hands on a copy. Therefore, I am pleased to bring to you the story of a girl named Mandy Lane and the girl who brought her to the screen. I give you…..
She got her big break back in 2004 when she was cast in the movie version of Friday Night Lights, and then went on to make North Country and Alpha Dog. She didn’t come to the attention of genre fans until she appeared in tonight’s film. Recently she has appeared in the stoner action/comedyPineapple Express, and she will return to genre work with the remake of The Stepfather due in 2009 and John Carpenter’s The Ward slated for 2010. This is probably the film that most horror fans will know her from, but is it hailed because of its release troubles or is it just that…..
All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006) starring Amber Heard, Anson Mount, Whitney Able, Michael Welch, Edwin Hodge, Aaron Himmelston, and Luke Grimes. Directed by Jonathan Levine.
Mandy and Emmett were best friends, even after the summer where she got hot. That is until at a pool party he convinces Mandy’s would be suitor to dive from a roof into a pool. The jock doesn’t make the leap and injures himself badly in the fall. After that, Mandy got herself a new group of friends.
She joins them for a weekend party at Red’s ranch house, and all the teens get involved in drinking, swimming, drugging, and having sex. Mandy is the only one to stay sober. As all the boys vie for her affections, a string of murders begins to pick the group off one by one. A killer stalks the ranch, a killer in love with Mandy Lane.
–The main ranch house used in the film was once owned by Hillary Duff’s family, and while filming the crew discovered memorabilia from Duff’s film Casper meets Wendy.
–Jonathan Levine followed up this film with The Wackness (2008) featuring a bong toking Ben Kingsley.
–Local legend has it that John Wilkes Booth actually escaped after killing President Lincoln and took a job as a hand on this ranch. It is said that he revealed his identity on his deathbed and was buried under a large tree, which can be seen proximately in the film.
–After the commercial failure of Grindhouse, the Weinstein Brothers who owned the rights to the film sold it off to Senator Entertainment US, but there were still no plans for the film to be released theatrically or otherwise.
—Singer/songwriter Robert Earl Keene makes a brief appearance as keg deliveryman.
The Bug Speaks
I was sure after all the hype, the wait, and the struggle to see the film that I would be disappointed. When I tell someone about this film in the briefest of terms, (kids at ranch get picked off by a killer), it sounds like the most standard of teen horror fare, but surprisingly there is something more here. The characters have depth; the film is full of subtle film making technique, and the plot actually has some imaginative twists.
As one would guess Amanda Beard’s Mandy is the focal point of the film. Very few young actresses could pull of what this character deserved. When a film has a title like All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, then the audience had better know why. Not only does she absolutely glow in this film (and I feel certain much care was taken with her makeup and lighting), but she totally embodies that type of high school girl that every teenage boy wants to know. Beard seems sexy, sensitive, and smart, and every time she is on screen, my eye was drawn to her. Now, I’ll fully admit that I do like to watch pretty girls in film (after all I write a weekly segment about it), but the mixture of performance and subtle camera work really makes this character pop.
The other teens are multidimensional which is quite a surprise in a movie like this. Instead of the normal cardboard cutout characters, we are greeted with a cast that takes command of their roles. Edwin Hodge, Aaron Himelstien, and Luke Grimes are all perfectly cast as party time popular guys, and each gives a very singular performance. Melissa Price and Whitney Able have a hard job in the film. After all, not only do these pretty actresses have to pale in comparison to Mandy Lane, but both of them have to endure some pretty grisly death scenes. Melissa Price has an especially violent death as a shot gun is rammed though her head until her jaw breaks off. The scene is well done with most of the gore hidden in shadow, and the sound effects that accompany the act really serve to sell it. I’d also like to mention that the actor who plays the killer gives a chilling performance. Although it is revealed quite early and the identity of the killer is easily surmised, I would rather not spoil anything I don’t have to with this one.
One of the other stars of the film is cinematographer Darren Genet. The film has a great look and feel to it, and the camera work both hold the narrative of the film and manages to be an integral part of the character of Mandy Lane. In some ways, the character was build both by the actress and by how the camera reacted to her. The sound track is also quite great. Featuring tunes from the Go-Go’s, Bobby Vinton, Peaches, and Robert Earl Keene all provide interesting tones to their respective scenes. The real standout track is a cover of America’s Sister Golden Hair by Juliette Commagre of the L.A. based band Hello Stranger. It is just perfect for the film, and I love the way it is worked in as a track as well as incidental music.