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The Little Slasher Film That Couldn’t

It seems that no one loves “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” enough to give it a theatrical release. The much discussed, long-delayed slasher flick — the first for Occupant Films — was Jonathan Levine’s debut feature, made back in 2006 before he teamed with the company again for “The Wackness, the pot period comedy […]

It seems that no one loves “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” enough to give it a theatrical release.

The much discussed, long-delayed slasher flick — the first for Occupant Films — was Jonathan Levine’s debut feature, made back in 2006 before he teamed with the company again for “The Wackness, the pot period comedy that became a 2008 Sundance darling.

Now the $750,000 production has been dumped.

After its successful premiere at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival, Dimension picked up “Mandy Lane” for $3.5 million and set a 20’07 release date. But then the Weinsteins, having taken a bath on “Grindhouse”, got nervous about its prospects and sold it to Senator Distribution. Now website Shock Till You Drop is reporting that Senator is in financial straits of its own in the wake of Gregor Jordan’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ “The Informers," which has so far grossed just $300,000 off an $18m budget.

“Mandy Lane’s” planned July 17 release has been scrubbed, with the film going back into the “to be dated” basket.

This year has proved lucrative for slashers, with the remakes of “My Bloody Valentine” and “Friday the 13th” grossing $115 million between them, but Levine’s debut offers no such brand awareness and would surely struggle in summer without a significant marketing spend.

Whatever following the director might have acquired through “The Wackness," meanwhile, would hardly cross over to a teen slasher. And titular lead Amber Heard, who got noticed in “Pineapple Express” (and who was in “The Informers”), isn’t quite a star yet, even though she’s soon likely to be, thanks to roles in the upcoming zom-com “Zombieland” and the remake of “The Stepfather."

No doubt adding to Senator’s qualms is that “Mandy Lane” has already received limited theatrical runs in Europe to little fanfare. In Australia, it went straight to DVD — which seems likely now to be its U.S. fate.

So what is it that genre fans are missing out on?

Sadly, and despite the very positive early buzz, the answer is: not much. While the title rolls off the tongue as if from some eerie schoolyard chant, this is by-the-numbers horror stuff. The characters are stereotypical douches and douchettes who might’ve been rejected from “The Real World." They squabble, make-out and die, while Heard’s nice gal is certainly hot, but boring rather than lovable.

Levine orchestrates a few stylish and toe-curling sequences, particularly an early sequence at a head-smashing pool party, but he also spends too much time making this look like a hipster-fashion ad.

Not helping matters is that the killer does a lot of his dispatching with a rifle, lending the whole thing a grim Columbine-style edge, which, for a summer teen crowd, is probably the toughest sell of all.