All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (DVD)

This is a film that is true to its source genre in its most fundamental aspect — the contrasts between the sugary sweet outward world and its dark underbelly. In Mandy Lane, as in many of its slasher predecessors, this boils down to a face-off between the too good to be true vitality and revelry of youth and beauty, and the painful twin tug of desire and responsibility. The latter manifests itself in the consciously stylised killing and overt (bordering on obsessive) sexuality which is so refreshingly unapologetic in Mandy Lane. Rather than putting loads of effort into being self-refexive and wry like the Scream franchise, or flamboyantly kitsch like the pastiche of Tarantino, Jonathan Levine instead realises his expression of the dichotomous world of high school through a series of cleverly composed shots which puncture the formulaic narrative with arty cinematography worthy of far better subject matter. The executions themselves are inventive and amusing, and the director must have been aware of this. In particular, the 'Chien Andalou'-esque murder is a triumphantly quirky nod to the absurdities of the content with which Levine is working.

I'm not going to argue with the claim that this film objectifies women. It does and it knows it. But to suggest that it is any kinder to its male characters is wide of the mark. The boys are no more rich in character than the girls, with a majority of both camps basically being insecure and narcissistic. Just like the girls, the leading lads use sex and sexuality to validate their self-worth and the whole group ends up vacillating between that familiar teenage ambivalence of supremely naive confidence and cataclysmic weakness and insecurity. Ranch-hand Garth may have hidden depths, but they are buried so far beneath his wooden, subservient, working-class hired-help badge that I don't have the time or inclination to look for them. The crux of this film lies in its expression of the heady mix of pleasure and pain inherent in this stage of life, which forms the weak spot ultimately exploited in the clever plot twist at the end. Frankly though, I feel that this is more than enough analysis for this move. When watching Mandy Lane the best thing to do is just sit back and bask in the stylised and playfully twisted gore of a fun and well-made genre film.

EXTRAS What the ...? They have got to be kidding us. An interview with Amber Heard and ... um ... the theatrical trailer. That's it. Hmmm, top effort, guys.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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