When a movie sits on the shelf for more than seven years you have to wonder why. In the case of All The Boys Love Mandy Lane, the reasons are complex. Suffice it to say there was a sale followed by a company’s collapse. Now it is finally on the big screen and it was worth waiting for.
Amber Heard is “Mandy Lane”, a student at a high school in Texas. She’s attractive, somewhat popular, but she isn’t part of the “in-crowd”. She is very close with “Emmet” (Michael Welch) and insists that he be allowed to attend a party she is invited to. “Dylan” (Adam Powell) is the host of the party and he is interested in Mandy. Emmet is shunned, as he is definitely on the outs with the in-crowd and he goes up on the roof. Dylan goes up to talk to him about how to improve his chances with Mandy. Emmet convinces him to do something to try to ingratiate himself with her and that act has a tragic consequence. Everyone blames Emmet for Dylan’s death.
Months later, during which Mandy refuses to have anything to do with Emmet, she is invited to a party by Red. All the “best people” are going to be at this party, to be held on a ranch owned by Red’s father. This is a horror film and a bunch of teens are going to a somewhat remote location. You can guess what will begin to happen upon their arrival.
This is typical teen horror fare but what makes it better than average is that the violence and gore isn’t cartoonish. When such things are obviously faked it detracts from the viewing experience. Heard and the rest of the cast does a good job with an intricate story that contains a few excellent twists. The relationship between Mandy and Emmet is one of those very complicated situations between boys and girls during their formative years.
If we were to view this movie as having come after Jonathan Levine’s outstanding Warm Bodies, it might seem to be a step in the wrong direction. That isn’t the case. Viewing Levine’s other efforts in the order of their creation, The Wackness, then 50/50 and finally this year’s Warm Bodies, we can easily discern that he gets better as he goes along.
The knowledge that All The Boys Love Mandy Lane came before those other fine films makes it definitely worth seeing in a theater.