Having premiered in 2006 and already released throughout the world, "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane" has been prevented from reaching U.S. theaters until now due to various rights complications. This has understandably made director Jonathan Levine's film something of a cult item among genre aficionados, with the obvious danger of the movie being built up into something more than the sharp but modest horror thriller that it is. It doesn't reinvent the genre, but it is a strong addition to the canon of films that fuse teenage anxieties of the body and social interaction with blood-soaked storytelling.
A group of Texas high schoolers head to a remote ranch for a weekend of partying and hooking up. With three girls and four guys (plus a manly cowboy ranch hand once they get there) the odds are already high that tensions will erupt over who gets with whom even before someone starts killing them all off.
Levine has since gone on to make the cancer-themed comedy-drama "50/50" and the zombie romance "Warm Bodies," and his savvy self-awareness is already in evidence here as he keeps the audience off-balance even as revelations start to roll out.
Although she has subsequently appeared in higher profile films, Amber Heard's title-role turn in "Mandy Lane" remains her definitive one to date. As a girl all the guys want and none can attain, Heard plays neither the damsel in distress nor femme fatale, bringing a layered mystery to the part. Despite its now somewhat outsized reputation, "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane" is not a missing masterpiece; rather it is a small, tightly coiled spellbinder.
"All the Boys Love Mandy Lane." Running time: 1 hour and 30 minutes. Rated R for disturbing violence, pervasive drug and alcohol use, sexuality/nudity and language — all involving teens. In limited release.