Arriving today on DVD and Blu-ray, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane tells the tale of a young woman who has just blossomed into a beguiling high school beauty. As played by Amber Heard, Mandy Lane appears to be a true innocent, untouched by the ways of the world, which makes her the most sought-after girl in her class. A getaway to an isolated ranch property, however, brings out all the ugliness in her friends, and soon dead bodies begin to pile up.
First presented to an enthusiastic film festival audience in 2006, the film finally made its way to theaters this fall. Director Jonathan Levine, who would go on to make the zombie romantic comedy Warm Bodies, plays around with the tropes of the slasher genre, never stinting on the bloodshed and gore, while examining teen characters who are not what they appear to be at first blush. Mandy Lane proves to be a "final girl" with a decidedly welcome twist, and the movie is well worth seeking out for horror fans.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane reminds us of other movies in which horror heroines have refused to act as stereotypes demanded.
The only known survivor of the serial killer known as Jigsaw, Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith) is changed by the life-and-death experience, which leads to her character's transformation from a "final girl" into something very, very different in the subsequent installments of the series.
The House of the Devil (2009)
Both a throwback to a certain type of '70s/'80s horror movie and a sly, postmodern update of genre conventions, director Ti West crafts a nail-biting picture that builds suspense with deft, breathtaking simplicity and intelligence. Jocelin Donahue stars as a college student who accepts a babysitting job in a very strange house, whose inhabitants have very unpleasant ideas about life and death. The decisions she makes defy anticipation.
Black Swan (2010)
Darren Aronofsky's very classy horror thriller features Natalie Portman as ballet dancer Nina Sayers, a rising young talent who wins the high-profile role of a lifetime but then begins to crack under the pressure. Portman, who earned an Academy Award for her nervy performance, loses her soul as Nina, but regains it as the Black Swan, crossing over to the dark side in a manner that's completely unlike any other horror heroine we've seen.