Monday, 7 November 2011


Mixed reviews when this came out meant it didn't bother until recently when I read a review in a list of under-rated horror movies. Now normally I'd do a review for Amazon and reprint it here (or vice versa), unless there were so many reviews already that anything I had to say would have already been said by someone else. But that isn't the reason I'm not doing an Amazon review. In order to review it all, without making it sound like an absolute bog-standard slasher, I would have to mention that it has a twist. Once you are aware that there is a twist you've just about guessed what it is. I know I did. I also got it wrong but not completely wrong; or, I got it right but not completely right.

So what I'm going to do is just review it here and if there's the slightest chance you may want to watch it -stop  reading now because I'm going to reveal the twist.

The leading role is played by Amber Heard in her first leading role. She's since had several and is highly regarded as a very promising young actress. She's especially popular in lesbian circles as she came out three years ago and has been in the same relationship with another woman for three years. It's nice to see that this hasn't affected the parts that she's been getting. Of course there's no reason why it should. Extremely openly gay Neil Patrick Harris has been playing a compulsive womaniser in How I Met Your Mother for seven seasons now and doing it very well. 
Okay, here's a decent picture of Heard.
And here's another from the film.

Mandy Lane is lusted after all by all the boys at her school. She a virgin, she's unattainable, she's slightly withdrawn but seems nice, she's athletic, she's friends with a bullied male outcast. At a party, the outcast tries to defend from a lecherous bully and later sits on a roof overlooking the pool where all the kids are. The bully, drunk but behaving decently, tries to get into coming down, but the outcast talks him into jumping off the roof into the pool. He says he'll jump too but he doesn't and the bully breaks his neck.

Several months later, Mandy is no longer friends with the outcast as a result of the incident and has agreed to go away to a ranch for a weekend with three boys (absent parents of one of the boys own it) and two girls. All the boys want to get into her pants, two of them are pains in the arse, one of them (the black kid) is okayish, both the girls are bitches. There's a macho good guy ranch hand.

Then someone starts killing the kids.

Now, knowing there was a twist, I came to a certain conclusion which is invited by the title. All the boys may love Mandy Lane, but does Mandy love the boys? Is Mandy going to be the killer? I certainly thought she was until the first killing when she's in a different location with the rest of the kids. It isn't that long before we do find out the killer's identity and it's the only other person it was ever likely to be -the outcast.

However I still had my suspicions about Mandy. One scene later on has her in the bathroom comforting a girl (see picture) and it almost looks as if Mandy is going to kiss her at one point but she's interrupted by the boys. Was I, knowing Heard is gay, imagining the sexual tension between the two or was it part of the character of Mandy?

Finally we come to the climax. The ranch hand has been shot but Mandy's bound up his wound. Shortly after the last surviving boy is killed and the girl (see above) is running across fields, pursued by the outcast, towards Mandy and they embrace. A moment later we hear the 'shuck' of a knife entering a body. Mandy steps back and lets the girl drop.

Yes, I was right. Mandy was in cahoots with the killer. But this is where it gets particularly disturbing. Now the kills themselves aren't over the top gory in the sense of Friday 13th or the Hatchet movies, but they are brutal. The victims are rarely dispatched quickly but viciously beaten or stabbed several times. When Mandy moves to meet her partner in crime, she ignores the moans of the dying girl, casually pulling the knife from her stomach to leave her dying slowly, blood bubbling from the wound. The outcast now expects himself and Mandy to commit suicide together but Mandy, who's been manipulating him all along, has a different idea but it doesn't involve him being alive. 

It's never spelled out clearly, though there have been oblique clues, but Mandy is a psychopath. She's never been enthusiastic or particularly emotional about anything during the entire course of the film. The outcast may not have all his marbles, but you can understand his motives for killing -the years of being bullied, of being an outsider. Mandy's motives, other than amusement, are less clear, if she has any at all. There's a drawn-out scene where the outcast chases Mandy at reneging on their agreement but she manages to beat him to death. Walking away, she goes to the badly injured ranch hand and helps him, presumably on the grounds that one living witness supporting her story is better than everyone being dead whereby suspicion could still be cast on her. Once you know the secret, you're forced to rethink the entire film and all of Mandy's actions, making this a cut (sorry) above the usual slasher movie.
A last embrace

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