Director: Jonathan Levine
Writer(s): Jacob Forman
Studio: Optimum Releasing
Box Office: $1,893,697
Release Date: 15th February, 2008
IMDb Rating: 5.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 41%
UK Blu Ray release? No, just DVD
Amber Heard – Mandy Lane
Anson Mount – Garth
Whitney Able – Chloe
Michael Welch – Emmet
Edwin Hodge – Bird
Aaron Himelstein – Red
Luke Grimes – Jake
Plot According to Google: Beautiful Mandy Lane isn’t a party girl but, when classmate Chloe invites the Texas high school student to a bash in the countryside, she reluctantly accepts. After hitching a ride with a vaguely scary older man, the teens arrive at their destination. Partying ensues, and Mandy’s close pal Emmett keeps a watchful eye on the young males making a play for Mandy. Then two of the students are murdered…
Inertia’s Insight: A grindhouse classic in the making with a brilliant B-movie title, Mandy Lane has gone largely unseen in the cinema world since its festival release in 2006 and subsequent UK release in 2008. Hampered with distribution problems due to the company going bust not long after acquiring the rights, The Weinstein Company have only recently stepped in to buy back the film and give it a limited release. It would be a sin for audiences not to see this film, particularly in countries where this kind of story is more pertinent than ever.
Mandy Lane has attracted the attention of every senior at her High School. Seeming to have flourished over the summer holiday, the simply stunning Mandy is innocent in her beauty and seemingly surprised and unfazed by the attention. Invited to a jock’s pool party, Mandy invites along her outsider friend Emmet who ends up gaining the attention of the jocks and, in an attempt to make a show of their bravado, Emmet challenges Dylan to a rooftop pool-jump that results in his death.
Cut to nine months later and it seems that Mandy has embraced the attention she was attracting and has now merged with the popular kids, leaving dark Emmet on the outside looking in. Beauty has been captured by the beast of High School popularity, though there is still an air of the innocent with Mandy.
Invited to a farmhouse retreat with just a few members of the popular group, Mandy and her group of friends indulge in the usual drinking games that oversee a teen retreat, and soon the group is split up and the murders begin. Mandy shares time with each member of the group over the course of the afternoon and evening; each interaction has the bittersweet innocence that she retains over the rest of them. Whilst they have all drank, took drugs and had sex, Mandy is the untouchable purity of the group that all of them – even Chloe – seem desperate to attain.
The audience are immersed with Mandy, expecting a transformation from pure Virgin to average American teen over the course of that night. Instead what we get is something entirely different. The film seems to fall into the Final Girl category as the killer is revealed early on to be Emmet, seemingly enacting revenge for his public shun and humiliation. As each of the teens are made aware of their killer (moments before their death) the film’s path seems intent on a showdown between Emmet and Mandy, the killer and the Final Girl facing off in a battle to the death; Emmet fighting to kill the person he holds responsible for his downfall.
And then comes the twist. I first watched this film when it was released in 2008, and I can genuinely say that even to do this day, it still gives me chills. Amber Heard is so incredibly beautiful of that there is no doubt, but the way in which she plays the role of Mandy is worthy of a horror mantlepiece trophy akin to some of the slasher heydays’ best: the moment in which her character switches to reveal that she is the architect of this massacre from the start is goosebump-inducing brilliance, and her reluctance to carry through hers and Emmet’s plan, to emerge the victim at the end of it all is sheer brilliance on behalf of Levine & Forman, but true hats need to be doffed to Amber Heard in a career-making performance.
So the Final Girl is actually the killer-by-proxy all along, her mask one of innocence. It is a pertinent and frank reflection of the strife and pain, angst and difficulty that each and every teenager feels, and one that, for reasons perhaps still unknown, some in America seem to feel the answer is taking a gun into school and ending it all. Mandy Lane subverts genre norms whilst commenting on a culture that, in the ten years since it was made, sadly shows no signs of ending.
Inertia’s Ideal Score (* out of 5): * * * *
- Emmett is seen wearing a shirt with ‘Natural Selection’ written on it, linking to Eric Harris who wore the shirt during the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999.
- The main ranch house used to belong to Hilary Duff’s family.
- Emmy Rossum was offered the role of Mandy Lane but turned it down, stating that she did not want to be in a slasher movie.
BIRD: You know we are trying to get you right?
MANDY: Get me?
BIRD: Get with you.
EMMETT: Die with me!
MANDY: I’m gonna go finish High School first.
All images courtesy of Google
Tomorrow: Night #21 – Eden Lake (2008)