By Glenn Dunks
August 13, 2014
Directors Lucky McKee (May) and Chris Sivertson (I Know Who Killed Me) have fashioned a gory take on the mythos of American high school life in All Cheerleaders Die, a witchy horror comedy that acts somewhat like a pick-and-mix cross between The Craft, Jennifer’s Body, Jawbreaker, and Bring It On. It holds initial promise thanks to its open exploration of sexuality and the way women are portrayed on screen, ultimately succumbing to the tropes it set out to subvert.
After the death of the head cheerleader in a horrific accident, Maddy (Caitlin Stasey) joins the cheerleading squad and becomes enamoured with Tracy (Brooke Butler), which angers her former friend and goth witch Leena (Sianoa Smit-McPhee). When Maddy, Tracy and two other cheerleaders die in a car accident, they are brought back to life by Leena’s powers and set out to seek revenge on the footballers that caused their demise. The picture is a remake of the directors’ own 2001 debut, albeit with a significantly reworked plot. The final title card announces this as “Part One”, suggesting a sequel, but it’s unlikely that’ll come to fruition.
While it is admirable that McKee and Sivertson wanted to make a movie that speaks to cinematic portrayals of women in horror, giving the genre a slight feminist twist, they haven’t done enough with it to make it a success. Sadly, the final act’s deterioration into gruesome set-pieces ends up indulging in the very anti-women attitudes that have typically plagued the genre in the past, the directors having way too much fun gruesomely dispatching the female characters who have suddenly lost all of the pluck, humour, and cheerleading spirit they spent the first hour attempting to instill in them.
All Cheerleaders Die looks nice and finds some fun visual beats to offset the material, but the screenplay is convoluted and lacks strength. There’s a kick to be had in seeing two Australian actors in a very American feature (Stasey and Smit-McPhee). However, unlike local effort The Loved Ones, this film’s take on the horrors of being a teenager isn’t up to snuff.
All Cheerleaders Die will be available from Quickflix on August 13, 2014.