All Cheerleaders Die (2013)

all_cheerleaders_die_xlgAll Cheerleaders Die is an American Horror/Comedy/Thriller released in 2013 remake of the 2001 film of the same name. Both films are written and directed by pair Lucky McKee and Chris Siverston. I was hesitant about watching this film and it sat for a while before I made the time to get around to it. A decision that I instantly wanted to kick myself for. The simple and a bit silly plot is what made me initially hesitant, but the performances were memorable and enjoyable. While it does have it foibles the quirky and silly tone of the film puts them at ease.

All Cheerleaders Die opens with Maddy Killian (Caitlin Stasey) making a video on her friend Alexis Anderson (Felisha Cooper). Alexis dies while performing a cheer move to the horror of all involved. The following year Maddy joins the cheer team to ruin the senior year of the cheerleaders and the football players for various slights. Her reasoning mostly being that Alexis’s boyfriend Terry Stankus (Tom Williamson) starts dating Tracy Bingham (Brooke Butler) almost immediately after Alexis death. She sets her plan in motion breaking up Terry and Tracy by making Tracy doubt Terrys fidelity and seducing her. At a party things turn ugly when under Maddys encouragement Tracy gets in a heated argument with Terry and he strikes her. After threatening to call the cops Terry takes and throws the phone causing the Maddy, Tracy and their two fellow teammates sisters Hanna (Amanda Grace Cooper) and Martha Popkin (Reanin Johannink) to flee the party in Tracys car. Terry and the fellow football players follow the girls eventually causing them to crash and drown in a river. The crash is witnessed by Maddys ex-girlfriend Leena Miller (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) who uses witchcraft to bring the girls back to life. The next the day the five girls wake up at Leenas house sore, confused and very hungry. Tracy makes her way to the neighbor’s house in search of food and ends up injuring him and the four previously dead girls drain his blood and feeling better in the process. The girls then set about their normal day and start to take revenge on the football players who killed them. But Terry figures out what’s going on and has plans to kill them again, but this time for good.

So like I said I enjoyed this film, I almost loved it. I really enjoyed the performance of all the actors with a special emphasis on the core cast of girls. They were witty, funny and very entertaining. It felt like they all really enjoyed being there and that’s the sort of energy that I really enjoy when it comes across. The male cast does an equally good job with one noteworthy exception and that’s Tom Williamson. He comes off very forced, which falls on the script over that of any fault on Williamson. His character is quickly shoehorned into being a villain in a film that really doesn’t need one. They quickly try to make his character evil to the point that the murderous actions of the cheerleaders pale in comparison to keep the cheerleaders sympathetic. Something that quickly spoils the character turning him into a caricature¬†over that of a memorable antagonist.

The script works very well as a Horror/Comedy, but the inclusion of the Thriller aspects are poorly implemented. The film would have worked better had they steered away from this and made the film morally ambiguous. I could have just written off had they not needed to make Terrys character a rapist two-thirds into the film. This plus his sudden onset of killing the girls (again) for pleasure over that of self-preservation and or as a genuine accident. I have a strong issue when rape is used to simply villainize a character for the sole purpose of making that character more evil than everyone else. The act is so vile to me that when it’s added in without any real thought offends me and makes me care less for the work as I find it offensive. Although beyond this one glaring issue I have the rest of film works incredibly well.

So final thoughts once again, it’s good. All Cheerleaders Die had the chance to be great and enter the wheelhouse of my favorite horror comedies, but ultimately misses too many opportunities or just mishandles what I consider very important issues/subject matter. The acting is enjoyable, the writing is downright funny at times and the horror fits very well within the context of the film. I feel bad for the characters and sympathize with them. Including the football players who fall victim to the girls deadly appetites. So end of the day what could have been a great ends up just good, garnering All Cheerleaders Die a 7/10.

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