Favourite / Film / Film with Female Lead / Gender Politics / Philosophy / Review

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)


“A sex symbol becomes a thing. I just hate to be a thing” – Marilyn Monroe

One of my favourite horror films (well, psychological thrillers) of all time is an intriguing and terrifyingly relatable character study of the perils of hedonistic sexuality.

Free love, free sex and free everything lead to the literal deaths of some high-schoolers in this intelligent film, and made me ask: what is all this mindless behaviour about? Of course, the lure of greed, power and lust are lethal on too many occasions (it’s too late for the Kevins of the world), and forgive me if I begin to exude some overtly-religious (bordering Amish) ideals in my deconstruction of this lewdness.

You’re wearing a bathing suit? That sucks.”

It’s no big deal.”

I am a firm believer in liberalism, personal freedom and choice. What I don’t condone is mindless, meaningless and hollow behaviour – the kind that gets you killed, if formulaic horror movies are anything to go by. This is exactly what happens to our hapless, unintelligent young antagonists in All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, a thought-provoking and fascinating film (though, unfortunately, both of these only apply post-plot twist).

You have no idea how hot you are, do you?”

The pre-plot twist synopsis is incredibly bare, and when you’ve watched All the Boys Love Mandy Lane once, you’ll see that the senseless plot actually adds to the experience and hits the heart of the point the film is making. The film begins with the beautiful Mandy (Amber Heard, who, I must add, is of a healthy and eye-pleasing size which caused quite the controversy at the time of release), a kind and quiet woman – most unconventional of all – Mandy is a virgin. The focus of every boy’s desires, Mandy is politely uninterested in their increasingly animalistic advances; “boys will be boys” is not a cliché I would use here.

Instead, Mandy is studious, committed to her family and compassionate. A young woman with heart and a stellar mind, she is entirely angelic and naturally, the object of every boys sexual fantasy. Unaware of her striking beauty, but aware of her classmates’ desire to have their way with her, Mandy cruises through the jungle of high school with nothing held high, except her modesty. It is this modesty, this grounded aspect of Mandy’s personality that immediately drew me to her.

“Human sexuality has been regulated and shaped by men to serve men’s needs” – Ana Castillo

As high school cliques go, it is also interesting that Mandy avoids all labels; she is not “popular” (despite having quite literally hundreds of routes to the “top”), she is not a “loser”, and she is not in the middle. She doesn’t seem to be on the chain at all, which highlights her unwitting power even more as her best friend, Emmet, is at the bottom of the wretched, senseless chain – bullied constantly. Mandy though, is not bullied once. The first three minutes of the film display the offhand, relaxed attitude to the teenage hedonistic lifestyle – sex, drugs and more sex. Generation X really did a great job.

There she is, boys. Mandy Lane.

 Untouched.

Pure.

Since the dawn of junior year, men have tried to possess her and to date – all have failed. Some have even died in their reckless pursuit of this…angel.”

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane revolves around a group of six stock “popular” high school kids who escape to one of the boy’s huge, secluded ranch. Unbeknownst to them, somebody is out to murder all of them – the only hint is that, whoever it is, is dangerously obsessed with our virginal Mandy and (thankfully) putting an end to the group’s cliché debauchery. As they are picked off one by one,  events begin to take a stranger turn – a less-than-standard horror film becomes a psychological thriller and a ‘whodunnit’, of sorts. While the audience are busy figuring out who the killer is, you can be sure that there are a good few candidates – always fun for placing bets.

I was never able to guess who the killer was, and after countless viewings, I’m still slightly impressed at the outcome. This outcome, I’ve already said, saves All the Boys Love Mandy Lane from becoming a throwaway horror film. I wish I could delve as deep as possible into the philosophy of this film, but in doing so, I’d be sure to give away some major plot points. So, I’ll leave it to you to watch: but let me know if you were at all shocked at the outcome.

Pros

  • Beautiful cinematography – stunning shots of ranches, train tracks, lakes are all contrasted with the mediocre gore and bloody violence expected in a teen flick
  • The deep-throat shotgun death was pretty amazing
  • Worryingly relatable – for me, anyway…

Cons

  • A boring and slow to start for its genre. But the film promises glimpses of the alluring Mandy, which should lift this boredom.
  • As the film is completely ambiguous in terms of character motives, it’s important to remember that not everyone will understand the genius of All the Boys Love Mandy Lane.

Final Verdict

7/10

Despite the slow, predictable and frankly boring start, be sure to stick around for the final moments of the film, or at least the plot twist. Although it’s not a beacon of fine writing, the twist features an interesting character study that was certainly refreshing and definitely intriguing. The uniqueness of the titular character should have you glued to the screen in any case; it worked for me.

If you decide to watch All the Boys Love Mandy Lane after reading this, and get in touch if this quotation means anything to you after watching it:

“Better murder an infant in its cradle than nurse an unacted desire”
William Blake

The cliché “beauty is a curse” really irritates me. Because one greater curse that lasts a lifetime is a far more insidious one – ignorance.

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2 thoughts on “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)

  1. I never think to look to deeply into movies. I usually watch action stuff just for a bit of escapism, and I would never guess that many of them have so much depth. Then again, some of them can be considered works of art, while others are shamelessly pieces of propaganda.

    • Ah, art can be propaganda in some form! I know just what you mean though; it seems as though the only philosophy most blockbusters follow is to make a of mindless money!

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