All Cheerleaders Die, 2013
Written and Directed by Lucky McKee and Chris Silverston
Starring Caitlin Stasey, Sianoa Smit-McPhee, Brooke Butler, Tom Williamson, Amanda Grace Cooper, Reanin Johannink, Nicholas S. Morrison, Chris Petrovski, Leigh Parker, Jordan Wilson
A rebel girl signs up a group of cheerleaders to help her take down the captain of their high school football team, but a supernatural turn of events thrusts the girls into a different battle.
All Cheerleaders Die harkens back to an era of films when Buffy the Vampire Slayer ruled TV and every teen horror was trying to be Scream. It’s a movie so dripping in 90s nostalgia, but never tries to force it upon its audience. It’s there if you want to relive the glory days of late 90s horrors aimed at the “me generation”, but it’s still its own movie – and a damn fine one too.
Like all good horrors with wacky plots, All Cheerleaders Die is a movie that never shies away from what makes it so likeable. It doesn’t play it safe at any point for fear of losing its audience and its rides the wave of madness from beginning to end. And while its a horror comedy on the surface, it also features some deeper social commentary that we’ve come to expect from Lucky McKee, whose brilliant The Woman still remains one of the best directed horror movies in the last few years.
All Cheerleaders Die is actually a remake of McKee and Silverstone’s own movie of the same name which they made straight out of college in 2001. They clearly wanted to make more movies in this cannon, but have said that they wanted a “fresh start” after making amateur mistakes all filmmakers make with their first movies. Since then, the pair have written and directed films with varying degrees of success (Silverston is the man behind the oft-mocked I Know Who Killed Me), but they have clearly grown and matured as filmmakers with this latest effort. The pair show great constraint as the movie slowly sets up its plot and characters so all of their actions in the remaining third of the movie have impact. Not hatching their eggs in the opening 20 minutes, All Cheerleader Die doesn’t really get going until the near 40-50 minute mark and its all the better for it.
It starts out like any other horror movie centred around teenagers, but when the girls are killed and brought back to life by the school’s outcast “wicker bullshit” enthusiast, it shifts into another gear. At a brisk 90-odd minutes, All Cheerleaders Die would have actually benefited from being slightly longer to allow the audience to fully enjoy the group adjust to their new way of life before the revenge side of the plot kicks in. It’s not a deal breaker as there are some truly brilliant moments during their first day back at school, but you just wish there was more of it.
The movie is marketed and pushed as a “horror comedy” and this is certainly a lot lighter in tone than the pair’s previous movies (McKee in particular), but there is more to All Cheerleaders Die than the poster and title suggest. It tackles taboo subjects like rape culture, violence against women and those who just turn a blind eye away from it. It goes to very dark places at times and it requires this group of actors to really bring their a-game which thankfully they do. It’s a brave move by the duo to address these issues head on in a movie which also features pretty funny necrophilia jokes, but they handle it very well.
All Cheerleader Die feels like it was made in the late 90s and then placed in a time capsule to be watched now and its an absolute blast. The cast all do a sterling job and McKee and Silverston have crafted a great script with superb direction. It’s funny when it needs to be, it’s powerful when required and it knows just how to get the balance right. It’s very silly at times, but that’s all part of the fun. All Cheerleaders Die is a great return to proper teen horror movies.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.