A rebel girl signs up a group of cheerleaders to help her take down the captain of their high school football team, but a supernatural turn of events thrusts the girls into a different battle.
If it wasn’t obvious before then it’s plain to see now, Lucky McKee likes to make films with strong, really strong female characters. His outstanding directorial debut, May (2002) is one of my favorite films of all time and after its success he continued making outstanding genre films like The Woods (2006) & The Woman (2011) which polarized film goers around the world. His latest film is called “All Cheerleaders Die” and it too is chock a block full of strong (& not so strong) female characters but this film is a bit different from what we’re used to seeing from him. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is the big question.
Co-written/directed with Chris Sivertson, All Cheerleaders Die is about a high school girl named Maddie (Caitlin Stasey) who wants to join the massively popular cheerleading squad in her school. But her reasons for joining aren’t what everyone thinks they are, what she’s really after is revenge on all the girls of the squad whom Maddie believes are responsible for the death of her best friend, Alexis (Felisha Cooper), who died in a horrible cheerleading mishap. Maddie really has her knife sharpened for one particular girl named Tracy (Brooke Butler) who immediately took the opportunity to sidle up to Alexis’ boyfriend, Terry (Tom Williamson), seemingly before Alexis’ body was in the ground for more than five minutes. Talk about being an opportunist…
It isn’t too long before Maddie begins to turn all of the girls against each other as she cunningly divides them to facilitate the process of conquering them. Interestingly enough, the girls band together behind Maddie and decide to rebel against the piggish members of the football team (Terry included), who treat all of the girls as little more than playthings that an be discarded after a few uses before they outlive their usefulness. But after a night of partying in which Terry angrily punches Tracy in the face after she verbally humiliates him, the girls all die in a horrible auto accident after the boys (Lead by Terry) force them off a road.
Or do they?
They do! But then they sorta don’t die because Maddies’s ex girlfriend, Leena (Sianoa Smit-McPhee), put a Wiccan spell on the girls and resurrects them all and they’re back to take their revenge on the boys that murdered them but there are a few kinks they have to work out first. They all seem to have a messy need to feast on human blood to exist and take every available opportunity to do so. In addition, there seems to be a mix up with the bodies they come back in as a few of them have their bodies switched. Since they’re all connected together by supernatural gems of some sort, they all share whatever feelings one of them might be experiencing (Like orgasm for instance) in true Cheech & Chong’s The Corsican Brothers (1984) fashion. But all of that eventually gets sorted out, the big question is: Will they have their revenge and if so…what’s next?
All Cheerleaders Die is one of those mixed bag type of films that are hard to like but near impossible to dislike as well. It essentially has everything a genre film should have in it to pull in the fanboys with nudity, blood, gore, humor, lesbian make out sessions and a nifty little twist of witchcraft to sweeten the pot. But these elements don’t blend very well because of a script that drags at times and feels only half completed. A lot of whatever success it finds is gonna be based on how many movie goers will be able to look past the script’s deficiencies enough to recommend it. This isn’t to say that it’s a bad film though, I actually enjoyed it to a fair extent. It features some really good lead performances, Tom Williamson has a great way of keeping his inner psycho visible to all who’ll pay attention to the cold, metallic stare he wears like a badge. Caitlin Stasey is all charm and no harm as Maddie and Sianoa Smit-McPhee is wonderfully sullen & vulnerable looking which belies the Wiccan spellcaster that resides behind her eyes. Some of the purported teens look old enough to be parents but that doesn’t kill the movie. Sometimes you just gotta ignore the obvious…
The direction by McKee & Sivertson is lively and although the film feels a bit muddled in the beginning, it never slows to a crawl and the wonderful Robert Kurtzman provides some really nasty looking practical make up designs that are both effectively gross and help to raise the ick factor to near 10 whenever they’re on display. There’s also a truly kick ass ending waiting for you here that promises a sequel with all kinds of potential.
All Cheerleaders Die is a decent little time waster that squanders a bit of its potential but still delivers a solid 90 minutes of entertainment for those among you that are looking for this sport of thing. While it won’t set the world on fire, it’s still a solid feature and you’ll definitely find something to make you laugh in between all of the girl on girl smooching & gore.
All Cheerleaders Die – 3 out of 5 shrouds.