Friday, September 18, 2015

All Cheerleaders Die (2013)

Horror movies and high school cheerleaders? A winning combination! That having been said, it's such an easy recipe, I was concerned that this would be a cheap take on zombie schlock riddled with clich├ęs. To my delight, it turned out to be a thoroughly entertaining film, with enough influence from teen high school dramas to fill the spaces between the supernatural violence and gore. Plus, it manages to be genuinely erotic in a few spots, which is so hard to pull off in a genre that seems committed simply to making nods to eroticism just to fulfill contractual obligations and clear the table for the "real feast" - blood and guts!

In this movie, a soon-to-be high school senior, Maddie (Caitlin Stasey, who I swear is channeling Kate Mara in this role), concocts an elaborate plan to humiliate her school's cheerleading squad from the inside out. But at a party on the night before the first day of the school year, in an excellent scene that demonstrates the filmmakers' confident grasp of how to ramp up tension, a freak accident reveals that the real villains in this picture are the football jocks. Maddie's ex-girlfriend just so happens to be Wiccan, and she uses black magick to reanimate her friends (who are really more supernatural vampires than zombies). Now, the girls must put aside their petty differences and band together in order to take down their male aggressors.

The problem with a lot of amateur or independent films is that the writing and/or acting frequently takes you out of the film, but that's not a problem here. I got lost in the characters, even into their petty high school concerns and girly drama. There were a few places where their attitudes and reactions actually made me smile, or laugh - which is a whole lot better than cringing. The special effects are more than adequate, even if they are suggestive of TV movie quality supernaturalism. Don't expect any kind of a deep film with intelligent commentary on life or human nature, but this movie is perfect for a good, fun time.

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