All Cheerleaders Die (2013) Film Review from the 57th Annual BFI London Film Festival (LFF), a movie directed by Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson, starring Caitlin Stasey, Sianoa Smit-McPhee, Brianna Womick, Brooke Butler, Emilie Germain and Leigh Parker.
All Cheerleaders Die is a horror film the type of which you have not seen yet. It is unique not because it is good but because it tries very hard to be. It nearly manages to convince you that it is but the typical disappointing horror clichés are always present and ultimately ruin it. Final Destination and Saw are all about the body count. All Cheerleaders Die is about that but also about surprise and laughter. The film goes quite far in its ridiculousness but it will be sort of difficult for you not to be just a little bit impressed by that. At the end of the day, however, you won’t be able to remember All Cheerleaders Die as something truly good. The effective direction style, jokes and surprises, which are occasionally found in the film, do prove to be enough to keep you awake until the end.
For all the film’s flaws, the direction is solid. Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson do a fine job with the otherwise deeply flawed story. The moments of comedy, tension, or fear, which can entertain the audience, are effectively realized. The editing is tight and the use of music is very effective. The performances of the girls are efficient and solid. The acting in this film is just as responsible for its mild benefits as is its directing. The script has a handful of good moments too. At times, it completely takes you by surprise (mostly with scares) and will make you genuinely laugh out loud three or four times. The problem is that the film is 90 minutes long and the good parts last for half an hour in total. As long as there are hot, half-naked, joking, brutally dying, brutally evil girls on the screen, you will have fun. Unfortunately, this is where the line is drawn when it comes down to the positive sides of All Cheerleaders Die.
Even with all those bloody accidents, beautiful girls, jokes, and crazy twists, I felt tired halfway through the film. The first half of the film was quite refreshing and interesting: there was humor, fear, and intrigue. When the plot takes a vast 180 degrees turn these three elements are preserved and are even ramped up a bit. As the film departs the notion of reality and becomes fantastical it also loses its touch and the audience starts losing faith. Those who are willing to sit through it will probably manage to enjoy the film until the end in one way or another. The rest won’t. When the film adopts fantastical elements it is transformed into your average supernatural horror flick. Every known cliché in the book exists in the second half of All Cheerleaders Die, the most popular of which is the high school outcast witch that performs mysterious magic.
What really ruined the film for me was how far it went into implausibility. It was refreshing to see a comedy horror film which takes such bold steps forward with spectacular twists. At some point though the whole thing became unbelievable and stupid. When the characters started dying in the film because of some magical powers, many of my brain cells joined them in the afterlife as well. When the magic kicked in, the characters who cared about real things in life during the first part of the film started hunting for magical stones in the second part in order to become ‘more powerful.’ I cared much more early on in the film when a punch was thrown in the face of a girl than for a later moment when the bad guy started slaughtering the girls with his superhero strengths. Some people might like the notion of magical powers. Perhaps the intention was for the audience to accept the ridiculousness of the film and just get a laugh out if it. I tried and I enjoyed it for a while before the clichéd ending took place. It was incomprehensible even by the film’s own standards. The action driven finale involved spinning magical objects and cheap-looking CGI. This was the worst possible way to wrap up a film that was at its best when it focused on clever jokes and surprises. The ending had none of those two elements. By the end of the film I was actually battling heavy eyelids and I was looking sideways from the screen. I was hoping that the film would end before I had completely forgotten what was good about it.
All Cheerleaders Die won’t be a waste of one and a half hours if you think that beautiful girls dying, killing, joking, screaming, and fighting is worth your time. Unless you haven’t watched a movie of a similar type you will be bored by the countless horror film clichés. If you are a serious film viewer you will find the notion of cheerleaders and football players killing each other with dark magic in the middle of their high school campus laughable. This is what All Cheerleaders Die is in the end. It is a laugh but mostly bad ways.