Something tells me director Lucky McKee has always viewed himself as an outsider in most of his life’s endeavors. Lucky found cult success in the 2002 film May (one of my all time favorite films. In it, a young girl is searching for the perfect friend. When she can’t find one, she decides to make one.) and followed that up with 2 more films in 2008 that have been well received to boot. Add the 2011 film The Woman to that resume, and Lucky has had a very successful career as a writer/director. Yet, almost all of his films deal with almost the same thing: A character that doesn’t quite fit in tries to assimilate with others. Horror ensues.
The film All Cheerleaders Die fits right into this category as well. Co-directed with Chris Sivertson, All Cheerleaders Die is reminiscent of the film Jennifer’s Body (except here it’s Jennifer’s Bodies). In true brilliant fashion, however, the film does not give us a true hero to root for. It twists the villains in the story and makes them victims for two of the three acts. It’s dark, fun, and blends many horror genres into one film.
All Cheerleaders Die is actually a remake of McKee/Sivertson’s 2001 film All Cheerleaders Die. The duo resurrected the story, tweaked it, and gave it a slightly larger budget than before. Maddy (Caitlin Stasey) is a pretty girl and quite rebellious. She joins the cheerleading team at her high school after her friend Alexis is killed during a stunt. Immediately after her death, Alexis’ boyfriend (Tom Williamson) Terry begins dating another cheerleader Tracy (Brooke Butler). Maddy is intent on seeking vengeance on the couple.
Well, it turns out Terry is quite abusive and has quite the temper. Maddy seduces Tracy after making her question Terry’s faithfulness. After an ill advised confrontation at a party, he and his cronies begin chasing the Maddy, Tracy, and a few other cheerleaders. As the title says, all the cheerleaders die…
Maddy’s ex-girlfriend Leena (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) dabbles in the black arts, and she witnessed all of these events. Out of pain and rage, she manages to raise all of the fallen cheerleaders and they are bonded together by magic stones that each possess.
The risen zombies find that they need to feed on blood, and begin exacting their revenge. I actually felt this part was akin to Megan Fox’s character in Jennifer’s Body need for nourishment and how they lured their prey (I would have said Frank’s need in Hellraiser, but that was more of a want than a need. He wanted skin to be whole. These girls needed the blood to live.).
Without giving away an spoilers, I felt that it was genius to turn the cheerleaders back into victims for the third act. All Cheerleaders Die lacks a hero. All of the football players are assholes. All of the cheerleaders are vapid or double crossing as well. Leena is bonded with the dead, and she relishes her role in the group. So what the directors did was flip-flop the antagonist/protagonist again and again so that you don’t really have somebody you’re rooting for.
Despite being a remake with more of a budget, it does suffer from obvious funding issues. Somehow, there are 6 football players on the team altogether (Seriously, the practice scene had me in stitches.). The rocks are a great idea as they just become colored light, but they do have hokey moments. However, despite these flaws, the performances are rather good. Stasey and the cheerleaders rock their roles, and even the football players that are asked to be more than bruisers demolish theirs. Smit-McPhee has the stereotypical witch part down, and Williamson is that guy where you can see the anger right below his skin. Between the playful dialogue and the interesting concepts (like the simultaneous orgasm), the film is an interesting and fun watch.
All Cheerleaders Die is definitely worth a look and opens today on a limited theatrical release. Here’s a list of opening cities and where you can see it:
|Boston||AMC Methuen 20|
|Chicago||AMC Streets of Woodfield 20|
|Dallas||AMC Mesquite 30|
|Detroit||AMC Forum 30|
|Houston||AMC Studio 30 Houston|
|Los Angeles||AMC Burbank 8|
|Miami||AMC Aventura Mall 24|
|New York||AMC Empire 25|
|Phoenix||AMC Deer Valley 30|
|Tampa||AMC Veterans 24|