All Cheerleaders Die, a film from directors Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson indirectly intended their film to a targeted portion of the horror comedy market by attracting audiences ranging from high school seniors to young college students, for that this is not a typical horror fans film. It will not appeal to the gore-hounds or splatter-punks or to fans of Universal Studios gothic horror or that of the Hammer Studios, and sometimes in the genre of horror that is proper, as the newer fans join the ranks a film must attract them to the genre. This does not mean this horror film contains nothing interesting, rather one must understand the audience for this vehicle, and that black humor and horror stir themselves together making for a modern-day Heathers (1988) meets The Craft (1996) gathering together to meet Detention (2011), while Bring It On (2000) performs in the front of the classroom. However, this does not mean the film IS unworthy of attention, for many interesting moments lie smoldering just under the surface waiting for the curious to peek into this vast offering of slightly off centered horror.
McKee and Siverston recreate their unheard of ultra low-budget short film of the same title, into a bigger budget with a beautiful polish and now explore more character development and doing it with more talent and experience to achieve the proper measured response. McKee, bringing his skills of female focused horror, the strengths and cunning from the woman’s perspective such that he did with The Woman (2011) and developing Caitlin Stasey’s character Maddy with sheer determination to follow through with her convictions to completion. While Sivertson, conveys the action, and gory moments to spray in the scene and yet with both of at the helm for writing portion to, the essence of ease with comedy comes the ability to reestablish the high school scenes back into the forefront in the genre, and settled in a rut of cabins and wooded areas. The camera technique is solid adheres to the male perspective, alluding to leering shots of the women, testing the outskirts of the exploitative markets, and building the sexual assault with the tightening camera lens.
As for the plot, that becomes an entirely different beast, for everything in horror seems to find a place in this film, the only other film to hint at that possible in recent memory is The Cabin in the Woods (2011). The title sounds basic, and almost gives the film away, but that conclusion finds itself buried early on in the production, rather the storyline starts simple and quickly spins right off a cliff. The premise involves Maddy, a social outcast, who’s friend (and perhaps more) dies in tragic cheerleading stunt, and transforms into a beautiful swan, with a revengeful plan on the rest of cheerleaders and her ex-boyfriend, Terry (Tom Williamson). While she successfully achieves step one of the plan to make the team, the following steps find themselves vanishing into a murky fog, discovering all is not as she first thought. Nevertheless, Maddy never becomes a straight-up slasher thereby eliminating a Prom Night (1980) or Night School (1981) atmosphere. An interesting note comes in the form of the cheerleaders appearing more adult looking than teenagers do, yet they have the common teen angst, sexual tensions and discoveries rampant in their lives while battling the football team’s sexual assault and deviant mannerisms.
Therefore, by the three-minute mark, a fatal neck twist occurs, and by the 30 minute marker, a backwoods beer drinking party involving the cheerleaders and some of the football team, surrounded by music eerily similar to Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968) conjures a tonal shift in the dynamics in the complex screenplay. The two groups of teens poke each verbal taunts and continue the acceleration becoming increasing testy with each other, and questioning Terry’s manhood, which causes explosive violent outbursts. It is after this party that everything changes for the worst and in some rare instances the better, but overall the film takes on a Pet Sematary (1989) mentality. The cheerleaders find themselves rescued and secure in the knowledge that revenge soon enough belongs to them, thanks to Leena (Sianoa Smit-McPhee, who does an outstanding performance) and her magical Rune stones. Leena marvels over her newly discover witch talents, which seems to adhere that her previous attempts landed terribly, sadly though her witchcraft contains imperfections, such as mistaken soul-swapping issues between sisters. A reference to Greek mythology occurs as the cheerleader absorb the culture of seduction as did the Sirens, as they begin living together, feeding their new thirst, and prowling the Blackfoot High Bloodhounds which often stating through innuendos, their hunger for virgins.
Soon enough, one can see all the elements swirling in the film, from a witch practicing a supernatural form of Wicca, to zombies with hunger for blood-drinking and an increased sexual desire that each other feels, and yet more piles into the mix, with more spooky horror in graveyards. Mckee and Sivertson, continue throughout the production to place comedic lines and giving more blood and lesbian thrills, but lacking chills, adding more to the recipe, without any stalling, aside from quicken pace, the sound matches perfect, along with a tightly match original soundtrack.
Trivia elements presents itself in the film, as Terry’s disillusions becomes reality as the cheerleaders followed by the Wicca Priestess strolls down the hallway in commanding style, Terry stands between a poster that states LIFE and a picture of a cemetery, perhaps the Filmmakers suggested indirectly that he finds himself caught in a purgatory. In addition, the school used for the set, had the location on top of an old Calvary Cemetery, giving the nickname of Phantoms. The film also, points to a verified fact, that Cheerleading, has become more of a gymnastic event, and listed as the second most dangerous sport behind American Football, setting the violate status and tone early in the film.
All Cheerleaders Die, contains many entertaining points, with the special effects supervised from the talented and creative Robert Kurtzman, with a wickedly designed bear-trap sequence, and the film brings just enough skillful direction, ambition, and sinister tools from a zombie vampire creature to have a violent horror movie. Although, Caitlin and Brooke Butler express a great feeling of sexual appeal, charm, and seduction, their character issues do exist, the students are a tad to witty, and the men find themselves as ego-ranging loons, filled with no emotions for the most part. While the film strives for a throwback to the 1980s, it misses the mark in that regard, but saves itself by creating references to pop culture, high school satire, and never takes itself too seriously. This likely will not be the last time one hears from the All Cheerleaders Die, a sequel appears ready launch, especially with the ending provided.
This review was originally posted in June 2014 on the now defunct Rogue Cinema website with a view count of 865.
- You can’t kill their spirit.
- They’re young. They’re beautiful. They’re back from the dead.
- Revenge is a bitch.
IMDb Rating: 5.1/10
Baron’s Rating: 5.0/10