ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE (2013)
All Cheerleaders Die is a somewhat fun, if not schizophrenic horror/comedy from Chris Sivertson and Lucky Mckee that is a remake of a low budget film they made together back in 2001. Despite having a good time here, I still feel that McKee, who showed so much promise with May and The Woods, has seemed to have lost his way a bit with this and his last film The Woman. His films usually come with an offbeat sense of humor, but lately they are less deftly mixed in, though at least here this is supposed to be a comedy whereas in The Woman, it was just off-putting. But I digress…
The story opens with pretty high school student Maddy (Caitlin Stasey) reviewing footage from a video project on friend and queen bee cheerleader Alexis (Felisha Cooper). It’s revealed the Alexis died during a botched pyramid move and now Maddy seeks revenge on Alexis’ boyfriend, star athlete Terry (Tom Williamson) for immediately shacking up with another cheerleader, Tracy (Brooke Butler). So she joins the squad to set her plan in motion. During the enactment of her plot, things go awry and Maddy, Tracy and the Popkin sisters Hanna (Amanda Grace Cooper) and Martha (Reanin Johannink) wind up dead in a car crash instigated by an angry Terry and his boys, whom are chasing them. But, Maddy is being crushed on by witch Leena (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) who witnesses the crash and uses her supernatural powers to raise the four cheerleaders from the dead. Now back from their watery grave, the four have an appetite for blood and an agenda of vengeance against the jocks that caused their initial demise…but a bizarre turn of events may have the four sexy succubi fighting for their undead lives.
As you can tell by the plot description, McKee and Sivertson’s tale of cheerleaders and revenge is a goofy one and that works both for and against it. The film’s tone is all over the place with it being silly one minute and attempting serious horror the next. The schizophrenic story takes our undead girls from victim’s to villains and back to victim’s and evokes the similar Jennifer’s Body, though without the smug, self awareness…at least Jennifer mixed it’s horror and comedy elements a bit smoother and never reached the degrees of silliness this does. It doesn’t mean the film isn’t fun at times, as it has a good time with the high school horror conventions and proudly uses it’s camera POV to ogle our shapely, scantily clad heroines as they strut around in cheerleading outfits that took like they were designed by a fetish clothier. Again, it’s obvious McKee and Sivertson know their influences and are are having fun with their subject matter, especially when the film goes all The Craft in it’s final act. But, it just never really solidifies to make it the fun treat it should have been. The abruptly shifting tone and the shifting roles of victim’s and villains makes the film more of a series of amusing vignettes loosely fit together than a solid tale. It just needed some consistency. Sometimes it was like watching a high school slasher and sometimes it was like watching an episode of Charmed. Not all the story angles even make sense, such as one where the two sister’s swap bodies upon their return from the dead. It seems only to exist to initiate a comic seduction scene with a mutual male interest. It goes nowhere. All the pieces don’t quite fit together, when all is said and done, and I still haven’t decided if where the film leaves off was cool or crass. I enjoyed this as a light diversion, but expected a lot more from the guy who gave us the deviously fun May and the atmospheric The Woods.
As for our leading ladies, all five actresses are having a blast unleashing their inner vixens, especially Stasey, Butler, Cooper and Johannink as the four spirit squad succubi. They get to tease and terrorize the boys and the audience and once the tables are turned, get to play heroines/victims against a far greater evil and have a good time doing it. Smit-McPhee seems to be enjoying her role as the awkward and lovelorn witch who is both pleased with and a little scared of the results of her spell casting. Her character is kind of a typical ‘school witch’ character, but she gives Leena some nice personality. As the overall villain, Tom Williamson takes Terry from arrogant and self-centered jock to all out demon by the time the credits role and he is very effectively detestable as such. The supporting players also seem to be enjoying their stereotypical high school horror characters and it helps this film a lot to have a cast that get the material and went with it. It adds to the fun.
So, I had a relatively good time with All Cheerleaders Die and certainly enjoyed the exploitation aspects such as making very good use of the leading ladies’ natural assets and the use of the classic fetishistic fantasy elements, as well as, the generous bloodletting and gore…though it could have done without the cheesy CGI blood. I just wish the film had a bit more of a cohesive storyline, even if it remained a silly one and the tone wasn’t so all over the place. It’s an entertaining and titillating diversion, but one that sadly implies that writer/director McKee may have shown us all he has to offer already, which is disappointing for those of us who expected big things after May and The Woods got our attention. Bloody, sexy fun, but could have been much more memorable.
3 sexy succubi.