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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (Blu-ray)
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (Blu-ray)
Anchor Bay Entertainment // R // December 3, 2013 // Region A
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted December 1, 2013 | E-mail the Author
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Better late than never. The fiercely independent All the Boys Love Mandy Lane made a hell of a splash in Toronto back in 2006, but thanks to poor test screenings, distributor cash flow problems, at least one
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bankruptcy, and no shortage of legal wrangling, this arthouse slasher is only now getting a proper release in the U.S., seven full years later.

Like the man says, all the boys love Mandy Lane (Amber Heard). Last summer, hardly anyone gave her a second look. What she's blossomed into now, though...? Damn near everyone in high school is desperate to weasel their way into Mandy's pants. Mandy up to this point has remained as pure, innocent, and virginal as ever, but now that she's sloughed off the dead weight of her creepy, possessive best friend (Michael Welch), she's starting to look at how the other half lives. Mandy even agrees to tag along for a weekend of drugs and debauchery at one of the cool kids' out-of-the-way ranch. There's not a trace of life for miles, at least unless you count the ranch hand (Anson Mount) who always seems to be around and has a dark past he'd just as soon not talk about. Oh, and then there's whoever it is that -- in between all the bickering, boozing, and boning -- is butchering these double-digit IQ assholes one by one...

There's not much of anything else like All the Boys Love Mandy Lane out there. You can take that as a thumbs-up or as fair warning. It doesn't even seem right to lump All the Boys Love Mandy Lane in with the rest of the slashers. There's no murder lurking around before the credits, there's not an out-and-out kill until nearly forty minutes in, and the attacks, savage though they may be, are brief and relatively bloodless. Hell, the climax is set under the bright of day, the movie dispenses with the usual claustrophobic setpieces in favor of expansive, endlessly open spaces, and All the Boys Love Mandy Lane doles out some of its key reveals when it feels like it rather than waiting till the end like a good boy. No iconic mask, no dementedly imaginative murders, not even a stab at spinning off some sort of franchise, very few stock scares or booming stings in the score...there's a psychopath hacking apart a gaggle of teenagers in a hopelessly remote location, sure, but All the Boys Love Mandy Lane can hardly be mistaken for a garden variety slasher.

Director Jonathan Levine -- who went onto helm The Wackness, 50/50, and Warm Bodies after this -- says in his audio commentary that he made a teen movie that uses the slasher genre as a Trojan horse. That's a really good way of looking at All the Boys Love Mandy Lane too. The movie's far more interested in exploring teenaged
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gender politics than it is in slathering spilled guts all over the screen. I wouldn't say it's deep, exactly, but the hormone-fueled bros all have their distinctive ways of trying to wrestle their way into Mandy's panties, and the girls' relationships -- with each other and with the guys -- are largely defined by their insecurities. Mandy aside, just about everyone in the movie is a raging asshole. In some cases, you can see why they're that way, but there's a difference between being sympathetic and being likeable, and All the Boys Love Mandy Lane doesn't want you on their side, exactly. This is a slasher flick where you kind of want to see just about everyone hacked to pieces. There's also the whole thing about the male gaze with Mandy introduced by closeups of tits and ass. That's all damn near anyone sees in her anyway, and unlike most Final Girls, the movie doesn't want you to get to know her too much more than that. She's kept at arm's length from other characters and the audience alike. The depth of the character and of Heard's performance don't really take shape until a second viewing.

The cinematography throughout All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is almost always striking, from a Malick-esque obsession with sunkissed golden hues to a shot from below that makes the ranch house look menacingly large. I similarly marvel at its retro-flavored college radio soundtrack, ranking among my favorites of any genre and any movie of recent memory. It's a decidedly artful film, something you can't say all that often about what on paper is a slasher flick. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is so different that it can be offputting -- too tame for genre fanatics and too brutal for the arthouse crowd. I have to admit that I didn't know what the hell to make of it my first time through a few years back, in part because I went in expecting a completely different movie than the one I wound up watching. It wasn't until this second viewing that I was able to really appreciate what Levine and company have crafted here. There's enough to discover throughout the film that I don't want to give away any more than I have to, but let's just say that you should go into All the Boys Love Mandy Lane prepared for something different. If you look at slasher movies as comfort food and you don't want them to veer too far away from the usual formulas -- something I can completely sympathize with! -- you might not want to shell out twenty or thirty bucks for this Blu-ray disc sight-unseen. On the other hand, if you're up for a change of pace...if you're interested in teenagers being dissected figuratively and only kind of literally...All the Boys Love Mandy Lane might be the artful slasher you've been waiting for. No pun intended. Recommended.


Video
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane took seven years to finally be released on these shores, but it's been widely available overseas for ages. I picked up Optimum's 2008 release from the UK several years ago, and after doing a quick comparison, the only things that've really changed since then are the corporate logos bookending the film. It's otherwise the exact same presentation: same framing, same color timing, same aspect ratio, same everything. No additional filtering or processing has been heaped onto this Blu-ray release from Radius TWC and Anchor Bay, and the AVC encodes between the discs are just about indistinguishable from one another. If you've already imported All the Boys Love Mandy Lane on Blu-ray, you're not gaining or losing anything visually. I've snapped a few lossless screencaps if you want to do a direct comparison:

Optimum (2008)Radius TWC / Anchor Bay (2013)
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All the Boys Love Mandy Lane can be an achingly gorgeous film to watch, and despite its run-and-gun shooting schedule, its visuals are more artfully crafted than any slasher you're likely to come across. That translates about as flawlessly as can be hoped for on Blu-ray. Its sunbaked palette is reproduced perfectly, and every trace of definition and detail that can be resolved is on display here. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane embraces its gritty, somewhat soft 16mm photography, so it's not as dazzlingly crisp and detailed as most of the genre films coming down the pike these days, nor does it shy away from its grainy texture. That sheen of grain is rendered well, ably shouldered by the AVC encode. Contrast is right where it ought to be, often deliberately blown out. There predictably isn't any wear or speckling to get in the way either. The nature of the photography means All the Boys Love Mandy Lane will never be mistaken for a reference-quality disc, but this is as strong a presentation as can reasonably be expected

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane makes its long-overdue bow on a single-layer Blu-ray disc at its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1.


Audio
One area where the domestic release has a definite edge over the UK import is its lossless audio. Both the Optimum and Anchor Bay releases feature DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtracks, but the domestic disc opts for 24-bit audio over the import's 16-bit sound. The sound design is first-rate, teeming with atmosphere and some strong directionality at times, such as the discrete placement of distant shotgun blasts in the dead of night and a rattling barrage of fireworks. Some of the actual sounds are astonishingly effective, particularly the thwak! after one raging prick takes a dive off a roof that made me shout "holy shit!", and the shotgun packs a hell of a punch. The lower frequencies are meaty and substantial as well. Dialogue is almost always rendered adeptly, struggling just a bit for placement during a road trip early on and sounding slightly edgy near the very end. A very strong presentation overall.

There are no dubs or alternate mixes. Subtitles are limited to English (SDH) and Spanish only.


Extras
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All the Boys Love Mandy Lane loses the Amber Heard interview from the Optimum release but gains a newly-recorded commentary track in the process.
  • Audio Commentary: The lone extra on this Blu-ray disc is a commentary track by director Jonathan Levine, marking the first time he's gotten around to watching All the Boys Love Mandy Lane in seven years. All the time that's passed since the premiere hasn't dulled his memory any; Levine is more than capable of fielding this commentary by himself, and there are never any lulls or dead air to get in the way. Among the highlights are Levine doing math for each take near the end to make sure he didn't run out of film stock, a '70s influence that helps the movie age well aside from a closeup of a Gordon Gecko-lookin' cellphone, spending the better part of a year in the editing bay, encouraging his cast to improvise, literally steaming up the set during one sapphic sequence, a day of reshoots to beef up some scares, and everything you wanted to know about Midnight Madness at TIFF but were afraid to ask. Definitely worth a listen, although he says less about All the Boys Love Mandy Lane languishing in limbo than I would've hoped.

The Final Word
I once heard someone describe All the Boys Love Mandy Lane as something like Terrence Malick remaking Friday the 13th as a teen sex dramedy, and that's just about spot-on. If you have a place in your heart for arthouse cinema and slasher flicks, chances are that you'll find All the Boys Love Mandy Lane worth the long, long wait it took to finally score a release on these shores. Recommended.
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