Writer: Lucky McKee, Chris Siverston
Cast: Caitlin Stasey, Sianoa Smit-McPhee, Brooke Butler, Tom Williamson
Cert: 18 (TBC)
Running time: 89mins
The lowdown: Lucky McKee and Chris Siverston dust off their 2001 short and give it a feature length, mid-budget makeover. Peer pressure, high school sex wars and witchcraft are the ingredients in this spicy brew as a gang of cheerleaders go from pretty vacant to pretty dead. And seriously angry. Sharp, inventive and with an edge familiar to fans of the directors previous movies, these are the most winning cheerleaders since Buffy hung up her uniform.
The full verdict: Typically the annoying ditz whose death receives the biggest laugh in standard slasher fare, cheerleaders move centre stage in this genre bending gem.
Maddy (Neighbours alumnus Stasey) has a Sapphic crush on her school’s head cheerleader until an hilariously shocking caught on camera accident puts the lead pom-pommer out of the picture.
Disgusted at the other cheerleaders’ reaction to this, Maddy infiltrates the squad to sow seeds of destruction from within, starting with new head girl Tracy (Butler).
But, when football captain Terry (Williamson) gets heavy with Tracy at a party, tragedy strikes and the cheerleaders and Maddy shuffle off this mortal coil.
Until Maddy’s ex and Wiccan witch Leena (fellow Neighbours alumnus Smit-McPhee) uses dark resurrection mojo so wrongs can be righted. But, as always, after-death life is never easy.
Directors McKee and Siverston have prior form in creating believable, dislikeable teenage cliques as seen in both 2006’s The Lost and 2008’s Red. They are also skilled in eliciting fresh, naturalistic performances from their casts – witness McKee’s brutal belter The Woman for details.
Both are in evidence here, alongside the directors’ preoccupation with staging tense, violent standoffs between the sexes (here jocks are dubbed “dogs” and the cheerleaders “bitches”).
A late in the day twist adds another, darker dimension to Maddy’s revenge, while Williamson is an effective, cruel-eyed tormentor of these leaders of cheer.
But, All Cheerleaders Die nevertheless finds the filmmakers in lighter mood than previous outings. Splicing Bring It On with The Craft allows for a number of well-realised hocus pocus set-pieces, played for laughs gore and darkly wry body horror.
Post-mortis the girls develop a hive mind; amusing when one of them deflowers a virginal jock, a scene given a double punchline when he does not realise the female body is not supposed to be that cold (“I was all up in that sweet, sweet freezer!”).
A barmy ending will provoke laughs for all the right reasons and with the door left open for a sequel McKee and Siverston might have just created themselves a horror franchise.