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After the demented surprise that was May (2002) I decided to watch another Lucky McKee project I had neglected. Up to this point having only viewed the enjoyable but instantly forgotten The Woods (2006) which, If I am to be completely honest, may have only been picked up for its inclusion of Bruce Campbell. Checking the collection it seemed I had another one of his films tucked away with the pile of cheese that is the Teen Slasher genre. Probably acquired in some mass genre acquisition run the films title, All Cheerleaders Die, had somewhat undeservedly been hiding among cornball favorite Cheerleader Camp and semi-recent Jim Wynorski flick Cheerleader Massacre. I loaded it up, expecting another missed entry in the 2000s flow of half parody genre films and still on a high off the unexpected ball of fucked up awesome that is May.
All Cheerleaders Die is a remake of a low budget and now hard to come by 2001 film of the same name. Both films were a joint effort from McKee and Chris Sivertson, the original being their first film out of college. The two said that in remaking their signature film they wanted a “fresh start”. Not having seen the original at the time of writing this I can't compare this version to the original but it is cited as being their “breakthrough”.
The film while including a few small nods to the pretty corpse riddled high school slasher tropes, would be more at home with the beautifully angsty The Craft or the other more recent surprise favorite Jennifer's Body. The opening alleviates worries brought on the handycam-eye-view by ending with an abrupt cheer-related death that made me wish I hadn't gone into the movie solo. The film ditches the shaky cam and we learn the intro footage is shot by the center of the films focus and scattered tangents, a teenage girl named Maddy (Caitlin Stasey) who tries out for the open spot in the high school cheer squad in lieu of the recent death. This is a change in character for Maddy, which is implied by the introduction of a magic outcast ex girlfriend,Leena (Sianoa Smit-McPhee), who comes strapped with a dead cat and a mystical distaste in the sudden lifestyle. change Scenes are shown that explain the move from loner to preppy is part of some kind of vague elaborate plan to ruin the popular kids or something.
An almost effortless try out later and.. boom cheerleader! Unfortunately Maddy and her new friends are soon chased off a cliff in a car by the heartless head jock and his goons who then run away thinking they have died. Using the power of colorful stones and friend magic, Leena resurrects the girls with semi successful results.
The girls, now some kind of sexy super zombies, develop a blood lust, glow sometimes and take up haphazard revenge on the gang of football players. Some kind of blood sucking wifi goes down as well as some fun deaths on both sides leaving us with satisfyingly slim numbers for a final showdown and surprise cliffhanger. Also love conquers all, but in the key of Mean Girls(2004) meets Diablo (the 1996 video game).
The entire mess feels like the enjoyable product of tossing every idea at a wall and seeing what sticks. This is not as bad as this method can be and makes for a fun and dark if not a little rushed roller-coaster of plot elements. It's obvious that the duo seek to poke fun at certain cliches the normal horror movie holds standard but at times the film falls back on several classic overused tropes. The films jumping from genre element to genre element could be disjointing for some I would guess. It moves from heartless teens to witches to power-zombies without a breather. The magic involved in the resurrection is never explained and probably for the better. At it's best it is a smart updated Craft at it's worse its extreme Sailor Moon.
The tone is much lighter than the other films from the directors. At the core it is a black comedy but in much more care-free way compared to the nervous chuckles of May.
The acting ranges but feels at place in the reality presented to the viewer. The cheerleaders are reminiscent of the common attractive slasher fodder and the film, aware, parodies these roles although luckily most characters are just as expendable and are dispatched throughout the runtime. The asshole lead jock (played by Tom Williamson) does well enough at first but is corny as fuck in the movies climax. The two leads work well enough off each other.
In all there was plenty for me to enjoy and the speed of the film easily kept my attention. Fans of the genre will find things to love but may be turned off by lack of nudity and cheesy gore. The plays on the classic tropes aren't perfect but bring new life to old tricks and is a further step in the right direction, as far as females characters go, then similar modern grindhouse tributes. The cliffhanger was a nice touch and could easily be part of the joke but here's hoping for the unlikely sequels.
Worth a watch but probably with some like minded friends. Goes well with Jennifer's Body and The Craft… possibly Jawbreaker.

Directors: Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson
Writers: Lucky McKee (screenplay), Chris Sivertson (screenplay)
Not Rated | 1h 29min | 8 May 2014 (USA) 

All Cheerleaders Die on Internet Movie Database
DVD on Amazon

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