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Mandy Lane is the most beautiful girl in her school, and all of her male classmates want to sleep with her, even though all indications are that she wants nothing to do with them. One of her classmates, an arrogant football player named Dylan, goes so far as to try to jump off the roof of a house into a swimming pool in order to win her love. Dylan winds up banging his head on the side of the pool and killing himself. Fast forward nine months, where Red, the Big Man on Campus, is throwing a party at his parents' ranch, and all the cool kids are invited... especially Mandy. Unfortunately for the partygoers, somebody has come to the ranch uninvited, and he has his sights set on winning the heart of the beautiful Mandy Lane... no matter who gets in his way.
A simple enough plot, done to near-perfection. This film was widely praised by horror fans for its Reconstruction of the slasher genre, bringing it back down to Earth and incorporating both the grit of 1980s slashers and all the lessons of Scream's Post Modernism without trying to imitate it like so many other teen horror movies. It was hoped that this would be the film that would revitalize an American horror scene that was growing stale on remakes and gratuitous violence... and those hopes slowly started to slip away as the film's U.S. distribution fell into a tangled mess.
This film contains examples of the following tropes:
- Alpha Bitch: Chloe.
- Ambiguously Lesbian: Mandy. She's athletic, she doesn't seem attracted to any of the guys in school (remember — she rejects Emmet at the end), despite all their best efforts, and her scenes with Chloe are possibly the only moments where she appears to be sexually attracted to another character. And of course, there's the Reality Subtext...
- Which would make for a rather interesting aversion of Bury Your Gays.
- Big Man on Campus: Red.
- Black Best Friend: Bird. However, he avoids being an Ethnic Scrappy — the only reference to his ethnicity is when a girl asks him whether it's true what they say about black men, and his speech isn't peppered with street slang.
- Black Dude Dies First: Played with, then subverted. When the power goes out, Red sends Bird out to turn on the generator. A Genre Savvy viewer would expect this to be his death sentence, but all that comes of it is a conversation between him and Garth. Ultimately, Marlin and Jake both wind up biting it before him. However, when he does die, it's one of the most gruesome deaths in the film.
- Cowboy: Garth.
- Death by Sex, Death by Irony: Marlin. Just minutes after she gives a blowjob to Jake, she gets a shotgun barrel shoved down her throat.
- Developing Doomed Characters
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The scene wherein Mandy murders Chloe is heavily sexualized.
- Everything Is Big in Texas: A ranch? Check. A working cowboy? Check. Reckless use of guns and fireworks? Check. Filmed in Texas? You bet.
- Eye Scream: Bird gets slashed across the eyes, blinding him before he gets stabbed repeatedly. While he's blinded, the killer taunts him, asking him where he is.
- Fake Boobs: Chloe, wears a padded bra in order to make her breasts look larger than they really are.
- Final Girl: Mandy. Pure and innocent. Subverted when it's revealed that she was in on the murders, and double subverted when she turns against the killer, allowing her to be the Final Girl after all.
- George Lucas Throwback: To gritty '80s slashers.
- Hollywood Pudgy: Marlin. But then again, the only person who says she's fat is Chloe.
Chloe: Marlin, don't get me wrong, but you're all pudge. That thing [her new belly button piercing]'s gonna get lost in the folds.
Marlin: I'm not fat.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Mandy gives off these vibes at the beginning of the film...
- Jerk Jock: Dylan.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: If you live in America, at least.
- Ms. Fanservice: Mandy, of course. Chloe as well.
- Outlaw Couple: Emmet and Mandy.
- Reality Subtext: See the bits regarding the Les Yay and Mandy's ambiguous sexuality? Now throw on the fact that Amber Heard, the actress who plays Mandy, has come out of the closet.
- Reconstruction: Of the Slasher Movie.
- The Scourge of God: Smoking weed, snorting ground-up ADD medicine stolen from younger siblings, stealing kegs of beer out of a truck parked at a gas station while the owner is standing feet away... and that's just the first twenty minutes.
- Short Run in Peru: The film was released in Britain in 2008... and has not been released at all in America.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The radio in Chloe's car plays Latin pop music as Emmet chases down Chloe with it.
- Stalker with a Crush: Double subverted with Emmet.
- Suicide Pact: Emmet and Mandy had one, in which they would kill a number of their classmates and then themselves in order to get themselves immortalized in pop culture. However, Mandy backs out at the last minute.
- Too Dumb to Live: Red and Chloe, you just had to stop and kiss before you reached the car, didn't you?
- Troperiffic: The film assumes that the viewer knows all the cliches of slasher movies and proceeds to play them all completely straight. And then subverts them all to hell in the last ten minutes.
- Twist Ending: Mandy was in on the whole thing, as part of a Suicide Pact with Emmet.
- And a second twist: Mandy backs out of the pact at the last minute, causing Emmet to come after her.
- The Voiceless: Played straight, then subverted. The killer doesn't speak while killing Marlin and Jake, but once his identity is revealed halfway through, he becomes far more talkative, frequently taunting his victims before killing them.
- Wild Teen Party: Even with only six people (one of whom isn't partaking in the debauchery), Red's party rather quickly turns into this.