The sad part here is that All Cheerleaders Die was so close to greatness. You can still see sparkling gems scattered throughout like Leena’s Wiccan stones, but much of it is a mess.
We start out with a video profile of head cheerleader Lexi being taken by nobody Maddy. Lexi is certainly cute, but like most everyone in this high school, is an asshole. Kudos to the producers for getting the movie off to a great start by dispatching her quickly and cruelly.
The next year, Maddy puts on some eyeliner, let’s her hair down, and is suddenly gorgeous. Maybe this is a sign that Hollywood has finally figured out you don’t ugly-up girls by putting glasses on them.
Maddy’s relationship with Alex is not clear — was she a real friend, or a hanger-on just doing a class assignment? Clearly, she was not one of the cool kids. The next year, she is trying out for Lexi’s spot on the squad. We get a montage of the cheerleaders and football players practicing their craft, Not to pick this thing to death, but an unusual number of shots are poorly framed, or shot too far from — or too close to — the subjects. Maybe they were hiding the stunt people; I never had this problem with Buffy, though.
Maddy’s motivation seems pretty loose. She hates Tracey because she started dating Lexi’s boyfriend Terry before a suitable mourning period. Granted, despite being a dead-ringer for Tiger Woods, he is the most hatable guy I’ve seen onscreen in quite a while, but this is thin stuff. But wait . . . for an hour, the film withholds the fact that asshole Terry raped her the previous summer. It would have been better for her motivation to be completely mysterious rather than use this flimsy excuse about dating etiquette for half the movie.
Now that Maddy is on the squad, she no longer has time for her freaky Wiccan friend Leena. But wait, wasn’t she just becoming a cheerleader to get revenge on them? How did Leena get shut out in the process? Again, we don’t know their relationship. There are indications that she is either a) a stalker, or 2) a friend from Maddy’s pre-cool days, or c) a lesbian ex-girlfriend. I think we’re all pulling for “c”, but a little nudge from the writers would have been nice.
The girls have a pool party. “Bitches only.” They send the “Dawgs” away. Maddy tries to drive a wedge between Tracey and asshole Terry by ratting out his infidelity. Mentioning that he raped her might have also caused trouble in paradise. She then tries to steal Tracey away by coming on to her. This is one of the aforementioned gems.
At yet another party, Leena is off by herself with her stones. Maddy and Tracey start making out again. Soon asshole Terry shows up and proclaims that the the football players will no longer fraternize with the cheerleaders. Tracey tells him off and asshole Terry punches her in the face. Hard.
The girls drive off and asshole Terry & his suck-ups chase them, quickly running them off the road. The car lands in a river upside down. A couple of the guys protest, but asshole Terry makes like asshole Ted Kennedy, leaving the girls to die.
Leena, following in another car, pulls the girls from the river and uses her Wiccan stones to resurrect them. Their scene waking up at Leena’s house had a lot of potential, but the opportunity was largely squandered. Like the party scenes, the large group of people was not handled effectively. This seemed to be a recurring theme — not knowing quite how to handle a crowd, and poor choices on composition.
There were some nice shots and even whole scenes in the last half of the movie, but it frequently seemed confused. Maybe this is the result of having two directors. With the exception of Leena’s neighbor Larry (Michael Bowen), I can almost make a perfectly sexist divide and say the female performers were all good to great, and the male characters were either zeroes or repugnant.
It is easy to say the tone was wrong, or inconsistent, or rushed. But then there will be 10 examples of films where the abrupt tonal change worked. Pretty much anything will work in the right hands. Unfortunately, the 4 hands directing this film were not able to make it work.
2, 4, 6, 8, I did not appreciate.
- What? Is there no shower room at this high school?
- Terry really should be treated like Brad in Rocky Horror. Every time he appears on screen, the audience should yell “asshole!”
- I’m far from high school, but Christ this is the worst music I’ve ever heard! Pretty quickly got my fill of “bitches” and “dawgs” also. I noticed the subtitles opted for the more traditional “dogs.”
- Loved this shot, but again, they botched the composition. Nice 3 feet of headroom when her feet should have been fully in the frame to indicate her 100% vulnerability and obliviousness to anything other than her desire to feed.