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You could call it Bring It On meets The Craft and stop right there with considerable accuracy. But why would you, when All Cheerleaders Die actually delivers as much trashy, gory fun as a movie with such a title suggests?
Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson’s teen horror romp benefits from the same campy, over-the-top occult element previously perfected in the films of Sam Raimi and many a Buffy the Vampire Slayer B-plot. While the wit and production value are nowhere near those masterworks’, there’s still lots to relish here. A quartet of Mean Girls–esque zombies rise from the dead, courtesy of a heavily eyelinered necromancer and a bag of magic gemstones. Hell-bent on taking bloody vengeance on the football players responsible for their deaths, the teens return to their high school in two-feet-too-short-for-the-Vatican skirts and black leather bustiers (apparently the cheerleading uniform at this wildly lax district).
The absurd circumstances yield an array of genre pleasures: spell-casting in class, pep rallies in the graveyard, a reverse-Twilight romance-in-the-forest vignette with a violent outcome, and the line “No more feeding at school!” Credit can be given to the movie’s latent surprises, its many moments that at first seem impossibly dumb before they progress into something unexpected, if not clever. Various lesbian make-out sessions that you might initially write off as randy preteen boy-bait develop into emotionally fraught relationships by the third act, and the cheerleaders in question are at least aware of how to use their perceived vapidity to its fullest advantage.
Caitlin Stasey manages to cook up some enigma behind her conventionally pretty face as protagonist Maddy, an unclassifiable outsider who eludes cliques, and even stereotypical mall goth Leena (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) is endearing when she yelps with surprise that her “stupid crazy Wicca shit” actually works. The cliffhanger ending and teaser to a prospective “Part 2” might be jumping the gun, but we wouldn’t mind a sequel.