All Cheerleaders Die plays with your typical high school movie tropes, then subverts them, then in a full circle kind of moment they come back around to the tropes that are being made fun of in the first place.
ACD is about Maddy, who after her friends untimely death following a cheerleading stunt, signs up for the cheerleadering squad, in an effort to avenge her friends’ death and take down the head cheerleader and the captain of the high school football team, but after an accident which kills four cheerleaders including Maddy, things get weird when they all wake up the next morning.
For the first sixty or seventy minutes ACD was fantastic, a rolling trip through high school all the while fun was being poked at all the regular stereotypes. The jocks, goths, hotties, stoners – they were all there and the films dark comedic streak was perfect. Then toward the last ten to fifteen the film takes a really dark left turn and things get wild. I suspect this may throw a hell of a lot of people and to be honest it threw me as well. However after having some time to think on it, it has definitely grown on me. As mentioned in the opening line of this review, the film subverts the normal; however the way it is filmed seems to be firmly entrenched in the clichés that the film plays for laughs. Yes, a blood hungry cheerleader is funny and weird but put her in her underwear and film it more gratuitously, than a De Palma slow motion bathroom shot and the focus is still going to be on the scantily clad girl and not the reason for her being blood hungry. Maybe it is just how audiences are conditioned? And it was a little experiment performed on them? Either way the juxtaposition of the reason and the visuals set the film a little of centre – whether that be by design or accident, one can only speculate.
On the acting side of the things, the main leads are fantastic, Catelin Stasey, Sianoa Smit-McPhee, Brooke Butler, Amanda Grace Cooper, Reanin Johannink and they all get to develop their characters throughout the film, Catelin Stasey (Maddy) in particular is great and very natural in her role but the girls best work comes later in the film when all the supernatural sh*t has hit the fan. Tom Williamson is particularly menacing as the football star Terry, he really puts exudes the kind of the angry, creepy vibe needed.
Writers and directors Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson have expanded their 2001 short film to feature length and for the most part they have succeeded in making a very fun and entertaining film, the writing becomes a little muddled as to whom they are trying to target with the films satire, at times veering into the very territory they were looking to needle. The direction was good with some great flurries, McKee loves his women in horror and All Cheerleaders Die is no exception. The film is very watchable and given the open ending – I want more!
Images: IMDB & Dailygrindhouse