|All Cheerleaders Die (2014)|
Reviewed by Dustin Putman
(Release Date: July 22, 2014) If "Heathers" and "Jennifer's Body" decided to conceive at a woodsy kegger, "All Cheerleaders Die" would be the offspring. Seeming to be a loose zombified remake of that former 1989 high school satire and latter Diablo Cody-scripted 2009 horror-comedy, the film is actually already a remakeor is it a bigger-budgeted do-over?of writer-directors Lucky McKee (2011's "The Woman") and Chris Sivertson (2007's "I Know Who Killed Me") still-unreleased 2001 effort of the same name. Now that these two have a little extra clout and experience behind them, they have decided to team up and tackle once more the wacked-out, girl-power-heavy tale of a troupe of cheerleaders who die in a nasty car accident and are resurrected through Wiccan classmate Leena's (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) black magic. They learn very quickly that they are dead and can only continue surviving through a little old-fashioned blood-sucking and cannibalism. Fortunately for them, there are a whole group of A-hole stoners and jocks who were partially responsible for their demise.
"All Cheerleaders Die" begins abrasively as Maddy (Caitlin Stasey) puts together what turns out to be a tribute video for ill-fated, pom-pom-shaking prima donna Lexi (Felisha Cooper). The moment she lands on her head during a routine toss gone horribly awry, the story reveals its twisted sense of humor. Following the maturity which McKee and Sivertson brought to their past individual work, the filmmaking partners show no pretenses here. The film is mostly all fun all the time, albeit one that does feel exceedingly familiar the longer it plays out. From the slow-motion walk through the school hallways to the ogling female bodies and tongue-in-cheek verbal interplay on display, "All Cheerleaders Die" is no longer as original as it might have been thirteen years ago. What keeps the movie energetic and resounding comes down to the astute performances from its actresses and the almost aching reality they bring to a premise both silly and ultimately tragic. Whether they're dead or not, growing up can be hell.
The 1080p digital transfer of "All Cheerleaders Die" is dazzling even when skin tones run slightly hot. The film radiates a colorful visual palette, with only some pixelated, purposefully low-fi video footage early on a noticeable drop in quality. Fine detail is exceptional, while the image's dimensionality pops off the screen. The film looks great, but its 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sounds a bit off at times. The lossless surround mix is mighty boisterous from all channels, but the robustness of its soundtrack occasionally hinders the intelligibility of some of the dialogue. I constantly had to keep reaching for the "volume" buttons on my remote to modulate the softness of the talking and the loudness of its action scenes. Things got better as it went, but that also could have been due to my ears getting used to the fluctuations. Had the dialogue been mixed more evenly, this would be an absolutely top-notch audio track.
- Behind the Scenes (23:45, HD)
"All Cheerleaders Die" didn't blow me away, but it did entertain me for a quick, peppy 89 minutes. Image Entertainment's Blu-ray release looks fabulous and comes with an informative behind-the-scenes featurette that moves beyond being EPK filler. Horror fans expecting something that is genuinely scary will be at a loss, but those who like a little blood-drenched darkness to their absurdist humor should eat it up. Fans of the aforementioned "Heathers" and "Jennifer's Body"as well as 1999's "Jawbreaker" and 2004's "Mean Girls"shouldn't hesitate to pick this Blu-ray up. Recommended.