16 Jun 2014

Review - 'All Cheerleaders Die' is as Sexy as it is Derivative

Director: Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson
Writer: Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson
Stars: Caitlin Stasey, Sianoa Smit-McPhee, Brooke Butler
Running Time: 90 mins
Sub-Genre: Supernatural, Comedy
Release: 16th June 2014

A rebel girl signs up a group of cheerleaders to take down the captain of their high school football team, but a supernatural turn of events thrusts the girls into a different sort of battle.

McKee (The Woman) and Sivertson (I Know Who Killed Me) team up for a hot teen supernatural comedy based off a 2001 version written and directed by the pair that sees a film play out like Charmed and I Spit On Your Grave have a sexy love child, and although the looks are all there, there are no brains behind this beauty.

This girls-gone-wild set-up is something to be admired, and it something that is established quite early on, delivering an impression of bubbling life that is hyped by the slapstick characters the evoke both beauty and bargain, resulting in a bunch of crazy ass bitches that get what they deserved whilst getting what they deserve. It's all one big game of tongue in cheek; that is of course until McKee and Sivertson fracture their glossy image by exhibiting a few too many unwanted cliches that damage the credibility you would have once had for All Cheerleaders Die, but once you realize that this play on horror tropes does in fact adhere to the ones it attempts to mock, you realize that both McKee and Sivertson handled the "soon-to-be-cult" like image wrong, and that is something you would have expected them to learn giving that this be their second attempt.

The pop-culture references mixed with the savvy play on high-school demeanors is all something to be admired as such is delivered with punchy mannerisms, but the escalation into a vapid formula prevents the film from ever branching out into fresh territory, the territory it once promised to explore. But after the messy middle act flare begins to glow, and in no time you are faced with a bizarrely final act that is as fun as it is exuberant; but none of that is enough to save the trashy delivery came before.

The characters drive the narrative, and the "bitches against dogs" approach is something that we as genre fans have seen one too many times, and despite a certain tweak on tropes here, it doesn't prevent it from feeling like a mash of such cliched call-outs as Sorority Row, Girls Against Boys and even The Craft; but without actual craft. That's the thing, All Cheerleaders Die had potential, but McKee and Sivertson wasted the glorifying image of what could have been on cheap gags delivered in a gimmick fashion that are neither funny nor amusing; but you have to give it credit for trying, because if All Cheerleaders Die is anything, it's a trier, and we all love a trier.

Even though it's played off in a very tongue-in-cheek fashion, you can't help but feel that even so it's still playing it too straight-faced, and that there were a lot of moments that would have been enhanced with the help of a little giggle and a laugh, not a scream and a cry. However, this can't be said for everything such as the deaths which most of the time are played straight, given how brutal they may appear; but even then we as an audience always look for that release, hence why a snappy one-linear just before being pulverized by a knife always helps. But there are some things that needed to be taken seriously, but when you see dead cheerleaders being risen from the dead through witchery it's pretty hard to take such a film with the straightest of faces.

The cast are of course as sexy as ever given the subject matter, and although most of the cast do their part in making for a mildly entertaining experience, some of which struggle to present a dimensional character never mind one that can act. This is a low-budget affair so great acting is something that you should never expect, but when you have a cast as uneven as this it become quite distracting, and All Cheerleaders Die is one hell of a distracting film. Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Sorority Row fans may rejoice, as this is something that blends both the savvy teen attitude with Twilight-like charms to create a mildly amusing supernatural horror affair that seems only for the acquired taste. This isn't a film that I would turn horror fans away from; watch it, embrace it, enjoy it by all means, but All Cheerleaders Die is something that did not please me, and the thought of a part 2 is something that I am not onboard with.

McKee and Sivertson may have hit gold with the narrative, but ultimately All Cheerleaders Die fails on its delivery due to its vapid descent into derivative territory.

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