Strange evocations… memories and dreams… dissipated and scattered… they run through the flickering images, all at once familiar, but somehow fresh, as if I’m seeing them for the first time. A pause is taken between words; it feels like an eternity. The characters fill the air with sound, because in silence we reveal too much of ourselves. From a young age, we understand talking as a means of hiding yourself, an elusive way of diverting attention away from your eyes and feelings. Then, once we have the need for words, they have already lost all meaning, and we cannot say what we mean… the silence becomes deafening.
A pretentious ramble for a pretentious film, but that isn’t to say I didn’t adore it. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is an over stylized and over thought horror film that makes me weak at the knees. It’s critics call it an feature length music video, perhaps omitting so much of the intelligence, and surprising tenderness the film inspires, as well as that seems to be the point.
The film strikes me as a cross between a Malick film and Death Proof, polishing it’s grimy locale with a sparkled aesthetic. I suppose I could understand why some would find it grating, it seems self-indulgent and absurdly self-aware. Yet, for me, that intense attempt at beauty seems self-reflective of the teenage psyche, and aids the film in its deconstruction of slasher norms. The film, especially, seems to take a good hard look at the perception and objectification of women in the horror sub-genre, revealing deep rooted insecurities in the female characters. Any action that can be perceived as being bitchy or slutty, is often counteracted with another moment of vulnerability; the inequality of sex, obsessions over personal appearance and a desire to be wanted or perceived as beautiful. Amidst the debauchery, we feel as though these moments of soul exposure are real, and it takes all the pleasure away from the murders.
As much pleasure I took in watching the characters be murdered in interesting ways in Sorority Row, here they inspired an aching disgust. The motivation and deaths themselves, remind me of experiences best left forgotten, and I think this is not a stretch of the imagination. I think it is aiming to create an incredible sense of dread and disgust. As beautiful as everything is, the deaths are not poetic, nor are they fun. You want to turn away, because as careless and annoying as these characters can be, they are understood as being human. I don’t think this film tries to have its cake and eat it too. I don’t see it as exploiting either sex or violence as a means to titillate and “moralize”, it stands somewhere in between.
Quite honestly, I don’t know why this film hit such a powerful chord. It’s a strange film, and I’m not even sure if it’s a great one. I find if endlessly appealing though, strikingly creative, and always surprising. I’m still not quite sure what to make of the ending, but the way it reeks of desperation (on the parts of the characters rather than the filmmakers), wins me over, despite the fact that it seems like an unprecedented shift in many respects. Perhaps I’m too easily swayed by style, but… the way we see our dreams, is often just, if not more interesting than the content of them… or something!