All Cheerleaders DieLondon Film Festival 2013
Saturday 12th October, 9pm – Vue West End, Screen 5
Monday 14th October, 8.45pm – Hackney Picturehouse
Cheerleaders, jocks, drugs, death, lesbian sex, witchcraft and feasting on blood: All Cheerleaders Die boasts every plot element your common or garden teen movie needs, but throws in a good heft of humour and intelligent lampoonery for good measure.
“There are more horrific injuries per student in cheerleading than in American football.” So says soon-to-be-dead-from-horrific-cheerleading-injury Alexis, captain of Blackfoot High’s cheerleading squad. Her ex, Terry, is soon public enemy number one, especially after he accidentally kills all the cheerleaders. Thankfully the neighbourhood Wicca – Lena – is on hand to bring them all back to life and send them on a blood-fuelled quest for revenge on Terry and his jock pals.
If none of this quite hangs together and all of it sounds familiar, it should do. This is not a story that’s meant to make sense – but it is a real belly-chuckler and the perfect antidote not only to weak parodies such as the Scary Movie franchise, but also the overly serious nonsense of Twilight movies et al. As an added boon, the soundtrack is fantastic with sweeping orchestral scores amusingly juxtaposed with slick electro-pop throughout.
The film lacks structure, is slow to get going, devoid of understandable character motivation and features a gaggle of vapid leads identifiable from their drossy band of cohorts only by their stereotyped tropes (witch, bible-basher, emo-teen etc). But whereas other films possess similar flaws inadvertently, there’s the comforting impression that All Cheerleaders Die wears its twaddle wittingly on its sleeve. It’s deliberately shoddy, and in being so self-aware becomes unexpectedly hilarious.
On top of this there is genuine, hard-earned humour at work here too. None-too-subtle punch lines about the internal temperature of an undead cheerleader during sex, and Lena’s heartfelt apology to her neighbour while her gal pals feast on his blood, are standout guffaw moments – but each cast member musters at least one extremely funny moment.
Directors Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson expanded All Cheerleaders Die from a short film they made in 2001, and the result bears the standard scars of this expansion process. The original plot, too simple to sustain a 90-minute film, becomes bloated and full of non-essential characterisation. But, barring a slow and humourless first 20 minutes, All Cheerleaders Die is testament to how even the most structurally-flawed of movies can be a thing of surprising joy. Go and see it. It’s fun.
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Watch the cast of All Cheerleaders Die discuss the film at the Toronto International Film Festival here: