Tuesday, October 7, 2014

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)

(Except me).

Slashers have been done to death. Which is not to say that there isn't occasionally a good one still being made (You're Next was worth watching), but those ones are few and far between, in a subgenre that apparently attracts a lot of filmmakers for its simple formula. Slashers were fun when they were fresh and unfamiliar - decades ago - but now, I feel like if you want to make a good slasher movie, you can't just set out to make a slasher movie. The slasher has to be a vehicle for something else that's worth seeing. Even going as far back as 1979, Alien was one of the best slasher movies ever created - because, though it follows the formula pretty closely, it's not strictly a slasher movie - it's a monster movie, for one thing, but it's also an intelligent, and genuinely unsettling sci-fi film. More recently, The Cabin in the Woods hit it off because it went far and above the demands for a slasher movie (and I'll remind you that my criticism of The Cabin in the Woods had less to do with the movie itself, and more with the things people were saying about how it was supposed to be interpreted).

I don't know why I thought All The Boys Love Mandy Lane would set itself apart from the average slasher flick. Maybe it was the suggestion of eroticism dripping from its title. Or maybe that its premise seemed to promise an I Spit On Your Grave-like morality tale. Unfortunately, the movie instead develops like your typical slasher flick - and as is also a complaint with many of those, the characters are not only difficult to relate to, they're utterly unsympathetic. Just considering the drugs alone, no longer are horny 30 year old teens content simply to smoke a blunt and get high, now they're popping pills and even snorting coke - at high school age! Although, sadly, I wonder if this is not simply a reflection of reality, and the modern drug epidemic in America (when I grew up, the concern was drug dealers peddling to kids in the schoolyard - just recently, I had a 14 year old boy ask me for drugs in a public park...).

Amber Heard looks pretty scrumptious as the titular character - although she doesn't quite pull off the "inexperienced adolescent" who just recently developed and is starting to attract all the attention of her same-age 30 year old peers in high school (I'm sorry if I beat the age thing to death, but it's really become ridiculous). Given the premise, what little nudity and eroticism there is is entirely disappointing (they completely wasted that locker room scene, by the way - how can such a depraved generation of rapist drug addicts be such modest prudes?). The sexism and misogyny is just oozing throughout the whole film - neither sex comes off well: the boys are all rapey assholes, and the women are petty, cock-crazed airheads. Why don't people understand that you can make an erotic film that doesn't cater to sexist stereotypes? Or are they intentionally trying to attack sex? In which case, they do a terrible job of it, by setting up unbelievable straw men. One scene almost hints at the main character being a lesbian, which is an idea with enormous potential that could have, if developed, transformed this whole project into something meaningful and worthwhile - but it's totally thrown by the wayside.

Ultimately, we come to the ending, which throws a few twists at the viewer. Sadly, an hour of cliches doesn't make up for a final half hour of "unexpected" twists. But what's worse, the twists don't even make sense. I literally watched the last fifteen minutes with a blank face and resting heart rate. No, "oh my god, I can't believe she did that!" Or, "holy shit, this is extreme/intense/twisted!" If anything, I might have had a furrowed brow because it seemed like the film was trying to be clever, but completely lacked any justification for the characters' actions. It was just simply confusing, and a completely unsatisfying ending to an overall disappointing movie.

No comments:

Post a Comment