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Friday, September 06, 2013

Sean Kelly

TIFF13: My Thoughts on All Cheerleaders Die

allcheerleadersdie

The 25th anniversary of Midnight Madness kicks off with this new horror-comedy by directors Lucky McKee (May, The Woods) and Chris Sivertson (I Know Who Killed Me). The film focuses on Maddy (Caitlin Stasey), who joins her high school’s cheerleading squad, in an effort to bring it down from within.  She also holds a personal grudge against the captain of the football team Terry (Tom Williamson). However, these plans go awry when a night time accident and intervening from Maddy’s wiccan ex-girlfriend Leena (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) results in a series of supernatural hijinks, which leads to comically gory results.

All Cheerleaders Die starts off seeming like it will be a heavily clichéd teen comedy, with the cheerleaders being incredibly over-sexualized and stereotypical. Also the film wastes no time in fulfilling the promise of the title, with a cheerleader dying, in a quite sudden and humorous fashion, within the first five minutes.  The film takes a supernatural swerve in the second act, which brings the plot into horror territory.  I don’t want to spoil exactly what that swerve is, but I will say that it leads to plenty of bloodshed.  Despite the supernatural elements, I would say that the true horror of the film comes from the antagonistic football captain Terry, who has a particular obsession with bear traps.  He becomes truly scary by the film’s third act, which is also the point the horror comes front and centre and I found myself enjoying the film the most.

All Cheerleaders Die is not a perfect film and it seemed at times to be struggling to find its tone. Many elements of the film came off as quite campy or even goofy, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Also, there are a few very badly done gore effects, using CGI blood, which did not come off well on screen.  I should also say that the film ends with one of the most obvious sequel set-ups, which included adding the words “Part One” to the title before the closing credits.  I’m still trying to figure out if this was a clever tongue-in-cheek joke or if a sequel is truly planned. My best guess is that it’s probably the latter.

Overall, while there have definitely been better films that opened the Midnight Madness programme, I still found myself liking All Cheerleaders Die enough to give it a mild pass.  It’s not a film I’ll immediately run back to, however I can definitely say that I had fun while watching it.

7 | FAIR 

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).