Originally completed in 2006, the film premiered at a number of film festivals throughout 2006 and 2007, including the Toronto International Film Festival, Sitges Film Festival, South by Southwest, and London FrightFest Film Festival. It received a theatrical release in the United Kingdom on February 15, 2008. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane received extremely divided reviews from critics, with some dismissing the film as "bogus and compromised," and others praising its "grindhouse" aesthetic and likening its cinematography to the early work of Terrence Malick and Tobe Hooper.
Despite its international attention, the film went unreleased in the United States for over seven years after it was completed; this was due to complications with its distributor, Senator Entertainment, which went bankrupt shortly after purchasing the film from The Weinstein Company. On March 8, 2013, it was announced that The Weinstein Company had re-acquired the rights to theatrically release the film in the United States. The film became available through video on demand in September 2013, and was given a limited release on October 11, 2013, through a joint contract between Senator Entertainment and Weinstein's subsidiary label RADiUS-TWC.
At a Texas high school, Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) is an outsider who blossoms over the summer and starts getting a great deal of attention from her male classmates. One of those classmates, Dylan, invites Mandy to a pool party at his house and she accepts with the provision that her best friend, Emmet (Michael Welch) can come along with her. At the party, Dylan attacks Emmet, and holds his head under water in the pool until Mandy intercedes. As revenge, Emmet convinces a drunken Dylan to jump off the roof into the pool, but he hits his head on the cement and dies.
Nine months later, Mandy has since befriended many of Dylan's popular friends, while Emmet has been almost completely ostracized and is subjected to even more intense bullying. Stoner Red is having a small party at his father's cattle ranch and invites Mandy along, which she accepts after receiving permission from her aunt.
Mandy, Chloe, Bird, Red, Jake, and Marlin, arrive at the ranch, and meet the ranch hand, Garth (Anson Mount). That night, while playing drinking games, Jake gets offended over a joke and storms off to a nearby cattle barn, where Marlin performs oral sex on him. They have another argument, and after he walks off again, Marlin is knocked out with a double-barreled shotgun by an unseen assailant, and has her jaw broken. After getting rebuffed by Mandy while making a move, Jake steals Red's shotgun and pickup truck and goes off in search of Marlin, before finding her sitting by a lake. The hooded killer is revealed to be Emmet, as he wants revenge for all the humiliation he suffered. He shoots Jake in the head and then breaks Marlin's neck with the butt of the shotgun, killing them both. While the remaining friends sit on the house porch, Emmet shoots fireworks at them from Red's truck; Bird gives chase, believing the driver to be Jake. When he realises it is in fact Emmet, they get into a fight, which results in Emmet slashing his eyes with a knife, and then stabbing him to death. The rest of friends, along with Garth, fall asleep in the house.
The next morning, Garth, sensing someone in the house, goes downstairs and finds the words "wake up" spelled out in bloody alphabet magnets on the refrigerator. As the group attempts to flee out the front door, Garth is shot by Emmet and wounded. While Mandy looks after Garth, Red and Chloe try to run to Chloe's car, but Red is shot in the back by Emmet, who then chases after Chloe in her car. Mandy retrieves the keys to Garth's Bronco from his shack and finds the bloody knife that Emmet used to kill Bird. She goes outside to find Chloe being chased in her direction; Mandy embraces her, but then stabs her in the stomach, revealing that she is helping Emmet with the murders because she is sick of all the boys trying to get her, especially after what happened to Dylan. She leaves her to bleed to death (her fate is left unknown) and meets up with Emmet. Mandy and Emmet then discuss their suicide pact they had planned but she reveals she had no intention of going through with it. Refusing to let her back down, Emmet prepares to shoot her but Garth intervenes by wounding Emmet with his shotgun, before being nearly killed. An irritated Emmet chases Mandy into the fields, where they both fall into a ditch filled with cattle carcasses and get into a fight; Mandy holds out against Emmet's repeated attempts to swipe her with his machete, and finally hacks him to death with her own machete which was stuck to a tree log. She returns to the critically injured but still alive Garth, and they both drive away from the ranch, where Garth thanks Mandy for saving him, incorrectly assuming her to be a victim in Emmet's murder plot.
A flashback shows the group back at a railroad track, where they took a break from their drive. While they are all goofing off, Mandy is shown balancing on the tracks, watching her future victims.Amber Heard as Mandy Lane, a shy and pensive teenager at her rural Texas high school. She is both a shy misfit and a popular outsider, who keeps distance from her peers, particularly the males who find her an object of extreme sexual desire; the exception is her best friend, Emmet. Mandy's parents died during her childhood. In conceiving her character, Heard stated that Mandy Lane "[represents] many, many real girls. Many real teenagers, especially in America. There are a lot of incidents of this kind of violence in school with the perpetrators being cute teenagers against their classmates. Their victims are their classmates and they're often their bullies.... [Mandy]'s a great representation of all those girls who are insecure and uncomfortable with their sexuality and their power and yet they're strangely intrigued by it and tempted by it."
Michael Welch as Emmet, Mandy's best friend who also harbors romantic feelings for her, but, unlike his male counterparts, conceals them. His argument with Dylan in the beginning of the film, which ends with him convincing Dylan to jump from the roof to impress Mandy, resulting in his death— puts a rift between himself and Mandy. Their peers lay blame on Emmet for Dylan's death, and he becomes ostracized by the high school, while Mandy is embraced by his popular oppressors. By him being ostracized and eventual perpetration of the murders led several critics to draw comparisons to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the teenagers responsible for the Columbine massacre. A notable similarity is that in one scene he is portrayed to be wearing a shirt similar to that worn by Eric Harris on the day of the massacre.
Anson Mount as Garth, the ranch hand at Red's parents' cattle ranch where the teenagers carry out their weekend party. He is years older than them, and the females, particularly Chloe and Marlin, are voraciously attracted to him; it is revealed that he is a war veteran, and that his wife had died before he obtained his job at the ranch. Garth's role is to oversee the property, and his presence is that of a parental figure, as well as an object of affection for the girls, much like Mandy is to the boys.
Whitney Able as Chloe, a popular student; a talkative and carefree party girl who exemplifies the stereotypical "airheaded blonde". Chloe expresses extreme insecurity issues as well as body image problems, and continuously belittles her friend Marlin, and asserts Mandy Lane's superior beauty over both of them.
Edwin Hodge as Bird, also a member of the high school's select popular elite, is slightly more reserved, and thus more perceptive to Mandy Lane's quiet and fleeting nature. He warns her prior to the party that all the boys there invited her for the sole purpose of trying to bed her, and insists that he's "not like that".
Aaron Himelstein as Red, the stoner; the funny and overall nice guy of the popular group whose family's ranch house the festivities take place at. In the beginning of the film, he gives a brief monologue educating the underclassmen about Mandy Lane and the failed attempts from multiple boys to sleep with her; while astutely aware of Mandy Lane's sexuality, Red is not overtly aggressive or flirtatious toward Mandy. He also makes his best attempts to maintain peace in the group, which is evident when a fight breaks out concerning Jake.
Luke Grimes as Jake, a hot-headed and overtly sexual teenager and Chloe's ex-boyfriend who is the most forward in his pursuit of Mandy Lane, although all of his attempts at wooing her are either ignored or received with disgust or silent ambivalence.
Melissa Price as Marlin, a wild, carefree party girl who is constantly belittled and criticized by her insecure best friend Chloe.
The film had initially been conceived in 2003 when writer Jacob Forman, producer Chad Feehan, and production designer Tom Hammock were all students at the American Film Institute. "I actually started it as my thesis at AFI," Feehan told Twitch Film. "The writer, Jacob Forman and the production designer Tom Hammock and I did it as our thesis together at AFI. We started working on it in 2003, then graduated and got it financed and were able to hire our friends that we graduated with to make the movie. It was obviously quite a journey from 2003 to 2006 when we sold it to the Weinstein Company, and after that it's been pretty trying."
Levine later told the Austin Chronicle that he and screenwriter Jacob Forman had drawn inspiration from Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) as well as the NBC television series Friday Night Lights and John Hughes films. According to Levine, he and cinematography Darren Genet had also drawn inspiration from The Virgin Suicides (1999) and Dazed and Confused (1993) when developing the film's depiction of teenagers.
Lead performer Amber Heard said that when she received the script for the film in Los Angeles, she felt it was noticeably "different". In an interview, she said, "There are so many [scripts] you get where it feels like you're reading the same girl over and over again. And then I read this script and I thought it was truly different and that it could be done well. This was a movie that was really under the radar; no one was really talking about it. It didn't have much money and subsequently it didn't get much attention right off the bat."
Principal photography began on location in Austin, Texas, and nearby Bastrop in 2006, on a budget of $750,000. According to Amber Heard, she spent little time with the rest of the cast when filming wasn't taking place in order to maintain a distance necessary to her character. She also said that the shoot was very low-maintenance, saying, "Everyone has these expectations, whether they're subconscious or not, of the glamour and how much fun that you can have in L.A. and I went with those same expectations. This was my first shoot, my first leading role. I fly to my hometown, funnily enough, to film and I stand out in this field waiting for my hair and make-up. Instead of the chair, instead of the lights, I stand in the middle of a field and have, literally, a bucket of freshly-dug mud dumped on my head."
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane premiered at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, followed by screenings at the Sitges Film Festival, South by Southwest, London FrightFest Film Festival, the IFI Horrorthon, at the French Cinemathèque.
The film was originally supposed to be released in 2007 by The Weinstein Company (via their Dimension Films label), but due to the failure of Grindhouse, among other horror films, the Weinstein Company sold the film to Senator Entertainment US. Senator, who at the time was setting up their own distribution company, later went out of business, and the film was held in limbo with other unreleased projects. In 2008, the film was screened at the Gérardmer Film Festival, Lyon L'Étrange Festival, and the Fantasia Film Festival, and received a theatrical release in the United Kingdom on February 15, 2008.
At Comic-Con 2010, director Levine and star Heard appeared for a screening of the film, and said that a North American release was finally forthcoming, though they did not say when or who would be handling the release. In June 2013, it was announced that the film would be released on demand on September 6 and in theaters October 11, 2013 in the United States— over seven years after its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The film received mixed reviews upon its initial festival screenings and subsequent European theatrical release in 2008; it currently holds a 41% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with a consensus that states: "Mandy Lane has enough wit and craft to spark the horror fans' interest, but is not sufficiently original for mainstream audiences." On Metacritic, the film received a 44/100 rating, indicating "mixed or average reviews". It received a positive review from The Globe and Mail, who wrote that it "displays an intelligence lacking in most teen slasher pics", and Film Threat called the film "a well-shot, [...] semi-cerebral horror film." eFilmCritic wrote that the film's writing of its titular character is flawed, but it "evokes the rich landscapes of early Terrence Malick and the grimy grindhouse tales of the ‘70s, converging poetically into its heartmashing climax. This is a film where the blood and carnage doesn’t feel like corn syrup or CGI and each death grows in sadness, not quality." Bloody Disgusting called it "a solid entry into the slasher genre and a pretty damn good teen thriller too boot." Other critics gave the film less flattering reviews, with The Guardian calling it "bogus and compromised: an unreconstructed horror romp in the guise of a nerdish intellectual." Slant Magazine said the film "flaunts its knowledge of classic genre fundamentals but fails to do anything very clever or surprising with them," and later compared its cinematography and aesthetic mood to The Virgin Suicides (1999).
The film continued to receive mixed reviews upon its theatrical release in the United States in October 2013. The New York Times praised the film, noting that "cinematographer Darren Genet draws from long shots of pursuits and a vaguely 1970s look, which wasn’t cutting-edge during the film’s making but suits the real-time nostalgia of high school activities, even murderous ones," and Scott Weinberg of FEARnet said the film "[brings] a quietly artistic taste of teen-aged sexual politics to a subgenre that's generally disinterested in anything resembling brains, wit, or subtext." The Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review as well, calling it "a small, tightly coiled spellbinder," and praised Heard's performance, referring to it as her most "definitive [performance] to date."
The New York Post gave the film a less favorable review, calling it "A slightly artsy attempt to revive the teen slasher movie [that] drifts awkwardly between popcorn entertainment and angsty mood piece." Christy Lemire of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that "[With the opening scene], Levine promisingly sets a dark and disturbing tone. But the vast majority of the film, which takes place nine months later, is a rather standard depiction of the bad kids trying to corrupt the last American virgin." Lemire also commented on the film's delayed release history, stating: "Its attempts at examining and subverting the well-worn conventions of the genre in the script from Jacob Forman might have seemed more novel seven years ago. But by now we've seen this approach executed much more effectively—and thrillingly." The Washington Post, however, praised the film's acting and thematics, writing: "Thoughtful viewers may detect thematic whiffs of Columbine, blended with "Carrie," that darken and complicate the film’s aroma of stale blood. Thoughtful viewers? What kind of teen slasher movie is this? Too dumb for the arthouse, but too smart for the mall multiplex, the movie satisfies, paradoxically, precisely because it doesn’t deliver on expectations."
The film's worldwide box office totals $1,893,697, more than covering its $750,000 budget.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane received a release on Blu-ray and DVD in Region 2 format in 2008. It is scheduled for a North American Blu-ray and DVD release in Region 1 format on December 3, 2013 through Anchor Bay Entertainment.
Although an official soundtrack was not released, the film features the following songs: