Directors/Screenplay – Lucky McKee & Chris Sivertson, Based on Their 2001 Film, Producers – Robert Tonino & Andrew van den Houten, Photography – Greg Ephraim, Music – Mads Heldtberg, Visual Effects – 11:11 Mediaworks (Supervisor – Roger Nall), Makeup Effects – Robert Kurtzman’s Creature Corps (Supervisor – Robert Kurtzman), Production Design – Krista Gall. Production Company – Modernciné.
Caitlin Stasey (Mäddy Killian), Sianoa Smit-McPhee (Leena Miller), Tom Williamson (Terry Stankus), Brooke Butler (Tracy Bingham), Reanin Johannink (Martha Popkin), Amanda Grace Cooper (Hanna Popkin), Leigh Parker (Manchester ‘Manny’ Mankiewitz), Jordan Wilson (Vik De Palma), Chris Petrovski (George Shank), Nicholas S. Morrison (Ben Fector), Felisha Cooper (Alexis Grace Andersen), Michael Bowen (Larry)
Mäddy Killian is shooting a film about her best friend, cheerleader Alexis Andersen, when she is witness as Alexis is dropped during an acrobatic routine and killed as she lands on her head. Several months later, Mäddy tries out for the cheerleader troupe and is accepted, although secretly loathes the bitchy girls. She conspires to turn squad leader Tracy Bingham against her boyfriend, the football captain Terry Stankus, by suggesting that he was with another girl and then seduces Tracy herself. An angry Terry pursues Mäddy, Tracy and two of the other cheerleaders, only for their car to crash off the road into the river. Leena Miller, a Wiccan witch who has a crush on Mäddy, rescues the girls and uses her magic runestones to bring them back from the dead. The four girls now find that their minds have been transferred into each other’s bodies and they have a need to feed on human blood. As they begin killing their way around the school, a vengeful Terry plots their downfall.
All Cheerleaders Die (2001) was an early film from directors Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson – the first directorial credit of either, in fact. It never attained much attention when it came out and was not widely seen. Both McKee and Sivertson went onto bigger and better things. McKee gained attention soon after with the weirdly culty May (2002) followed by the horror film The Woods (2006) and couple of non-genre films Red (2008) and Blue Like You (2008) before making the controversial The Woman (2011) and subsequently Kindred Spirits (2019), as well as the Ding Dong episode of Tales of Halloween (2015) subsequent to this, plus producing The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot (2018) and Darlin’ (2019).. Sivertson dallied writing screenplays before solo directing the fine psycho film The Lost (2005) then the Lindsay Lohan bomb I Know Who Killed Me (2007), followed by Don’t Wake Mommy (2015) and Heartthrob (2017).
Both Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson are clearly capable of doing much better things so it is a mystery as to why they have reteamed here to conduct a close remake of All Cheerleaders Die. The original is not exactly a film that many people saw or regarded as a classic that is burning to be given a better-budgeted treatment or anything of the sort. The only theory left seems to be that McKee and Svertson either had such fun, enjoyed working together or were so attached to the idea that they wanted to repeat the experience.
The title gives you the impression that we are in for a spoof of the slasher film – maybe something like a twisted version of Mean Girls (2004). However, as the film sets in, this turns out to be far from the case. Indeed, All Cheerleaders Die frequently has you scratching your head trying to work out exactly what it is that McKee and Sivertson are doing. Although some of the film gives the impression of launching into the slasher film as the title suggests, what we have seems more along the lines of a film like Tamara (2005) and Jennifer’s Body (2009) about resurrected teenage girls taking vengeance around the high school.
Despite the film being sold in the horror comedy vein, you often you get the impression that McKee and Sivertson are taking the show quite seriously. In this regard, there are times that All Cheerleaders Die works well – like one scene where it becomes apparent that Caitlin Stasey is manipulating head cheerleader Brooke Butler and especially where the two taunt Tom Williamson (not an actor you would immediately think to cast as a jock but who does a fine job projecting controlled menace as the captain of the football team) and challenge him to punch her out.
About the thirty-five minute mark, the film abruptly kills off the girls and then has them resurrected from the dead whereupon All Cheerleaders Die starts to get weird. The girls come back not quite right and where some (but not all) of them have managed to swap their minds into the others girls’ bodies. The film then goes for broke in a scene with them turning on and attacking neighbour Michael Bowen. What starts as a serious film then becomes one about resurrected cheerleaders and high school revenge with a strong element of rivalry between the jocks and cheerleaders.
It is a film that seems all over the place. For instance, much is made in the early scenes of how Caitlin Stasey is going undercover to the cheerleader squad and we get the impression that she is seeking revenge for her friend’s death but this is an element that never rears its head again except briefly at the very end.
I felt myself far too confused by the film’s random changes of direction to get into it. Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson have both demonstrated they can do far better than making what would otherwise be just forgettable direct-to-dvd teen horror fodder. If anybody else were directing, for instance, All Cheerleaders Die would be an unremarkable film; however, with their names attached to it, it received a premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and played at a bunch of others. The end credits bizarrely announce that this is Part 1 or what is presumably a series of films.