All the Boys Love Mandy Lane begins with boys craning their necks to ogle high-school senior Mandy Lane (Amber Heard), sashaying in slow motion down the school hallway. The cliché is intentional. This debut film from Jonathan Levine (50/50, Warm Bodies) was designed as a homage to exploitation horror films of the 1970s and 80s, though the film itself has unexpectedly become a vintage item. Originally acquired by the Weinstein Company at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2006, it changed hands four times in seven years before eventually returning to its original owners.
With its sickly sweet pop soundtrack and muffin-brown palette that suggests faded VHS tapes, Mandy Lane shares elements with the genre-parodying Grindhouse (the Quentin Tarantino-Robert Rodriguez double bill of Death Proof and Planet Terror). But Levine does little here, either with style or humour, to rise above inherently crummy material.
The cast of little-known actors play catty girls and randy guys who booze, toke, snort, keep threatening to undress and get killed in various ways. In an introductory sequence, the virginal Mandy brings nerdy Emmet (Michael Welch) to a party, and he goads a bully into a stunt that costs the boy his life. Consequently, Emmet is off Mandy’s friend list. Nine months later, Mandy is ready for another wild party at the secluded ranch of wise-guy doper Red (Aaron Himelstein), where six doped-up and isolated teens are easy pickings for a homicidal maniac.
The movie’s strained “twist” ending makes no psychological sense, and feels as though Levine was as bored with the formula as his audience.