Maddy is a high school student making a short film about the head cheerleader Lexi, when the girl is killed after a cheer stunt goes wrong. Maddy joins the cheer squad, wanting to make life hell for Lexi's former boyfriend and football team captain Terry. She makes friends with Tracy who is now Terry's girlfriend and persuades her to dump him, but when she taunts the angry football captain at a party he persues them in a car leading them to plunge off the road, seemingly to their deaths in a river, only for them to appear at school the next day...
Written and directed by the duo of Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson and a partial remake of their own debut film made in a 2001, All Cheerleaders Die looks to have all the ingredients of yet another generic teen horror, but an utterly bizarre and unpredictable left field twist takes the film into original and genuinely enjoyable territory.
The film does take a little while to get going with a number of quick jumps in time - we see Maddy watching the tape of her filming of the doomed Lexi at the end of term then moving forward to her joining of the cheerleader squad and we are introduced to a whole variety of characters - pacing is somewhat on the slow side here, but the characterisation is good and importantly the football players, led by Terry, are well personified as dislikable bad guys, which makes the subsequent revenge far more entertaining and understandable. At the point where the film might have gone down the traditional slasher route, a hard left-turn takes things straight into supernatural territory and the writers have come up with some very enjoyable and highly original ideas. The film really kicks into gear here with the remaining hour being a fast paced, gory and darkly comic ride with very unpredictable direction - never slacking off, it builds to a bizarre but appropriate finalé. The high school setting is always well realised, the dialogue is believable and characters act appropriately for their ages, without becoming grating.
As directors, McKee and Siverston manage a fine balance - there is some good, creative direction on display, without descending into the gratuitous or over-edited mess of many low budget genre titles. The locations are well chosen and the night scenes are carefully lit to keep the action clear. There are a few CGI effects which look a little cheesy, but some vivid practical gore effects which look very good - unfortunately the film's American roots are evident in the almost complete absence of nudity and only one brief sex scene (despite the fact that sex forms some 99% of the character's dialogue) which looks to have been shot with a rather awkward use of a body double. The music is a very fitting mix of contemporary tracks.
Australian actress Caitlin Stasey is perfect to play Maddy and the casting as a whole is very strong with Tom Williamson making a thoroughly dislikable football captain, Sianoa Smit-McPhee in a difficult role as Maddy's mysterious friend and Amanda Grace Cooper (whose lack of more film credits is a real surprise) giving a great performance in what is essentially a dual role.
All Cheerleaders Die could easily have been a safe and lazy high school slasher flick, but McKee and Siverston give it a batshit crazy twists into the supernatural and after the somewhat slow first third, it becomes a highly entertaining mix of dark comedy and gory deaths with a really unpredictable storyline - direction is consistently good and the cast is strong. Fans of the unusual modern horror films should certainly enjoy this.
|Anyone famous in it?||Caitlin Stasey - an Australian actress who made her name in Neighbours before moving into films|
|Directed by anyone interesting?||Chris Sivertson - best known for the poorly reviewed I Know Who Killed Me (2007) starring Lindsay Lohan
Lucky McKee - director of several unusual horror films including The Woods (2006) and The Woman (2011)
|Any gore or violence ?||Several bloody deaths.|
|Any sex or nudity?||One brief topless shot.|
|Who is it for?||Fans of the stranger side of modern horror should enjoy.
|Visuals||Aspect Ratio - 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour.
A solid digital transfer with no problems.
|Audio||English 2.0 and 5.1 surround - audio comes through clearly.|
|Extras||The disc includes:
|Region||Region 0 (ALL) - PAL|
|Other regions?||Available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Image Entertainment in the US, including a 23 minute documentary piece as well.|
|Cuts?||Believed to be fully uncut. Print language is English.|