Thursday, October 30, 2014

All Cheerleaders Die – review

Directors: Lucky McKee & Chris Sivertson

Release Date: 2013

Contains spoilers

When I watched the All Cheerleaders Die trailer I was struck that it looked a little like a low-end Jennifer’s Body with more than one reanimated cheerleader. As it is, the film is much more obviously vampire – though the lore is fairly much its own in terms of the reanimation process.

However, things are not perfect. I said the trailer looked low-end – in fact the final movie is of a higher filmic quality than I expected – but what, of course, the trailer didn’t put across was the fact that there was more needed within the film – more deaths and more tension primarily.

filming Lexi
The film starts off with the unlikely pairing of head cheerleader Lexi (Felisha Cooper) and Maddy (Caitlin Stasey) as Maddy filmed a day in the life of a cheerleader. Lexi takes her around her world, explaining the fact that cheerleading is a dangerous sport and that proves prophetic as there is an accident and Lexi dies due to a toss gone wrong. Maddy is one of the girls that goes to try out for Lexi’s unfortunately vacated squad slot – to the initial disgust of new head cheerleader Tracy (Brooke Butler). However Maddy used to do gymnastics with Lexi and she earns the squad place

Maddy tries out
Later, recording her video diary, we see that Maddy is disingenuous about her place on the team. She is doing it to get at Terry and, it would seem, Tracy who are now together. Actually we later hear that Tracy was a means to an end and it was simply Terry she was going for as he raped Maddy when she was filming a memorial video for Lexi. This could have actually been said from the beginning and was a bit of a pointless later reveal – the early knowledge of what Terry was like would have helped carry some cinematic momentum. She goes off to a pool party with Tracy – brushing off her erstwhile girlfriend Lenna (Sianoa Smit-McPhee)

Sianoa Smit-McPhee as Lenna
The football team turns up at the party but are given short shrift as it is a girl only event. However Terry gives Tracy a bracelet he found (actually we again later discover it is Maddy’s, ripped off her during the rape, again early disclosure of this would have been better). Maddy tells Tracy that she had seen Terry with another girl, Tracy buys it and has a bit of a Sapphic kiss with Maddy seen by Terry. At a party after the first match the two girls make out (seen by Lenna who is a practising witch and trying to protect Maddy as she believes the omens are against the girl – plus she’s kind of a creepy stalker, not enough was done with this). There is an altercation with Terry, who punches Tracy and then the cheerleaders (including sisters Hannah (Amanda Grace Cooper) and Martha (Reanin Johannink)) drive off, pursued by the Jocks. They crash and drive into a river – the Jocks do not help them.

However Lenna has seen it and pulls the dead bodies from the water. Earlier we had seen her talking, to team mascot wearer Hannah, about the stones she used for magic and the danger of spells (consequences such as a mother wishing her soldier son home and him returning in a body bag) – Hannah has some issues as she loves a Jock named Manny (Leigh Parker) but he fancies her sister. Despite the earlier warning Lenna realises the stones are reacting to the blood and she uses her own blood to cast a spell. Four green stones embed in the dead girls and a purple stone embeds into Lenna – the girls return from the dead.

The girls awaken in the morning at Lenna’s home and there has to be some persuasion of what has happened. We also discover that the sisters have swapped bodies (this is used in film but could have been expanded around). Tracy is hungry and goes to Lenna’s neighbour Larry (Michael Bowen), after some drinking milk and throwing it up she opens a vein in his neck with a nail. The crystals in all the girls start to glow and they all feel it. The four girls feed on Larry’s blood, leaving a desiccated corpse with the life drained from it.

blood sucked through the air
Now, I said about needing more – there is another vampiric kill, with the stone leaving Tracy’s body and burying itself into her victim and then the blood leaving his body and flying through the air to her mouth before the stone reinserts itself. However there could have been more done. Terry works out very quickly what is happening and then starts cutting stones out of cheerleaders (which kills them) and eating them to gain power. This was a leap – why did he do this? The film could have done more with him and spread that out. Of course Maddy’s duplicity also comes to light but there was not enough done with the fact that the girls all feel what each other feels but have a rupture in their unity is never really played with.

into the school
So much more could be done but resurrection by magic stone was fairly unique. Other than that apparently major trauma can kill one of these vampires as well as losing their stone. Their renewed life lasts a pitifully small amount of time – hence not much is done within the film, though there is a (more zombieish) late resurrection that opens the film for a sequel. The acting is ok but the characters we meet in detail are mainly two dimensional and others are little more than ciphers. Sianoa Smit-McPhee tries her best to channel Fairuza Balk in the Craft (including switching from odd to – straight after the spell – hot) but, like everyone else, has little to play with.

sequel fodder
There seems to be little in the way of killers remorse emoted by the girls (except for Maddy, who is slightly bothered by thoughts of a life of blood drinking, but even that is minimal) and Terry does not come across as that badass for the focal bad guy. This had a lot of potential but the potential is squandered by not doing enough with it. As it was, the film was ok but that’s about the best I can say about it. 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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