High school cheerleaders (really any high school endorsed team sport) always felt more like a cult to me. The similarities are insane: chanting, matching outfits, the ritualized slaughter of animals (What?!? Cheerleaders in your school didn’t do that?) and a loyal and stout following that appears to be willing to anything for the “team”. If these similarities weren’t freaky enough, Lucky McKee and Chris Siverston (writers/directors) decided to make cheerleaders undead and give them supernatural powers… I’m sure the girls in the drama club are all sorts of excited….
After the unexpected death of head cheerleader Alexis, A/V nerd Maddy (Caitlin Stasey) lands herself in the open position. We learn quickly that Maddy has ulterior motives for joining the team (even though it’s not revealed until the end, it’s not hard to figure out what). With herself right in the middle of the popular girl click, Maddy begins to set her plant her seeds of destruction. Things take a turn for the worse when she under estimates how violent Terry (Tom Williamson), captain of the football team , can be when his masculinity is attacked and the girls end up in a car at the bottom of a river. Fortunately for the cheer squad, Maddy’ s ex-bestfriend (or girlfriend not quite clear on that), Leena (Sianoa McPhee-Smit) was nearby and witnessed the whole thing. Leena also happens to be a witch and accidentally brings the girls back from the dead. Naturally the girls are bestowed with special powers and are now required to drink blood to sustain themselves…. We never really get an explanation why, but really, who cares!! Bring on the cheerleaders!
Okay, when I type it out All Cheerleaders Die sounds kind of lame, but it’s strength is in its execution. Building off a short they made years ago, McKee and Siverston have decided that the short film that launched their careers deserved the feature film treatment. The film making duo have crafted a fast paced, fun horror flick that is a complete 180 of their normal film fare. McKee is no stranger to feature female leads (see May, The Woods, The Woman for proof) and he’s also not afraid to show them at their very worse (or best, depends on which movie and how you look at it). Here they went with more females going all sorts of Leatherface they just left out the deep character development.
Speaking of character development…
My biggest gripe with ACD is the set up. A little too much time is spent setting up the characters before the film takes a turn for crazytown. It’s about the 40 minute mark when we finally get to see some undead cheerleaders kill people with awesome powers (aside from the WTF moment in the beginning. Did not see that opener coming!). I know McKee and Siverston are known for slow burning their plots and always ending with a big (mostly gore filled) finale. They take a similar approach here, but with a title like All Cheerleaders Die you would think cheerleaders would die….. a lot. Call me a typical american, but I went into this flick expecting a balls to the wall killer cheerleader action and what I got was forty minutes of My So Called Life (yeah I just dated myself. Google it) until we got to what we came for. That being grotesque deaths happening to attractive people in spectacular ways.
Now that I bitched about how there wasn’t enough hot cheerleaders ripping people apart, let’s talk about hot cheerleaders ripping people apart! When ACD finally kicks it into fourth gear we get a smorgasbord of post-mortem spirit squad disemboweling horny jocks! As weird as it sounds the plot unfolds organically, with the bulk of it taking place in only a 24 hour window. The cast here is all top-notch and Caitlin Stasey makes it easy to root for her, even when we learn she has darker motivations. Tom Williamson plays one of the most evil on-screen villains of the year. He is a budding psychopath and let’s his eyes reveal most of that (seriously, he has the deadpan killer stare down!). He is an antagonist you never once feel sorry for and you know from his time on-screen he’s no good. Which makes rooting for girls that much more enjoyable.
All Cheerleaders Die is a fun, over the top, teen horror flick that adults can enjoy also. Kind of like a Pixar film. If Pixar had boobs and blood and rape… Okay ACD is nothing like Pixar movies, but I’ll be goddamned if I didn’t have a blast with it!
All Cheerleaders Die is available in select theaters and VOD now!