Once word gets out, I’d expect a drop in cheerleader enrollment worldwide…
A quartet of cheerleaders die in a car wreck and are brought back to life by a witch in love with one of the them. It is a hokey set-up that turns into a surprisingly enjoyable guilty pleasure. Filmmakers Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson have created an unpredictable horror film with a necessary dose of comedy given the story, employing a tasteful selection of campy fun and high school commentary for the jaded genre fan. All Cheerleaders Die will not change your life but its satirical edge and fun energy makes it a must-see for horror watchers.
High school life has always provided an excellent backdrop for teen horror. It has been a genre staple for years. Outsider Maddy (Caitlin Stasey) holds a grudge against the cheerleaders after her friend and last captain of the squad dies in an accident, so the rebellious teen plans to make the cheerleading squad and destroy them from within. The squad is connected at the hip with a group of jocks from the football team, led by the menacing Terry (Tom Williamson). All Cheerleaders Die appropriately milks the angst and turmoil of the complex social relationships found within a teen group at the very top of the high school social pyramid.
Maddy realizes the cheerleaders aren’t bad people as she gets to know them, becoming close to Tracy (Brooke Butler). Tracy is Terry’s supposed girlfriend but things start falling apart between them as Maddy drives a wedge into that relationship. Events follow with the jocks, resulting in a car crash that kills the group. The cheerleaders are then resurrected by a witch that has a major crush on Maddy, the gothy Leena (Sianoa Smit-McPhee). Her lesbian crush on Maddy becomes a running theme in the movie, played for laughs more than anything else.
The movie proceeds to get funnier and darker once the cheerleaders are resurrected by Leena’s magic. The dead teens now have a thirst for blood, resulting in murders at the high school. Using their new powers for evil, the cheerleaders get their revenge against the jocks that wronged them.
What separates All Cheerleaders Die from most direct-to-video fodder is its satirical edge and humor-laden performances, led by Caitlin Stasey. She gives a charismatic turn in the lead role, switching effortlessly between teen rebel and vicious mean girl. The film knows when to play a scene seriously and when to play up the humor, resulting in a well-paced horror film that takes a couple of unpredictable turns. It results in a hugely entertaining B-movie that never takes itself too seriously. The worst thing about All Cheerleaders Die is the unimaginative title, one chosen seemingly at random.
Image Entertainment has included the 89-minute main feature on a BD-25, resulting in an AVC video encode that averages 21.98 Mbps. All Cheerleaders Die was not a mega-budget production. This independent film lacks the kind of extreme clarity and immaculate detail found on the newest Hollywood features. This is a satisfactory presentation of a movie with adequate cinematography. The proper theatrical aspect ratio is preserved in the 2:39:1 widescreen presentation at 1080p resolution.
The transfer has not been filtered and lacks major video processing problems such as edge enhancement. Close-ups demonstrate average amounts of fine detail, lacking the razor-sharp quality of better-looking films. Exterior shots in the bright light of day perform the best, producing decent sharpness and solid focus. Some slight contrast problems crop up in them as they are too bright, producing blown-out highlights.
This new production includes fairly clean video, free of serious compression artifacts. Some minute levels of noise and grain are more noticeable in the darker shots. Black levels lack the inky depth of reference video, rendering muddy shadow detail and occasional problems in its shadow delineation.
All Cheerleaders Die looks perfectly ordinary on Blu-ray for a new film with no major problems, lacking the polish of better and more expensive cinematography. It is not demo material but looks fine on a large display or projection screen.
All Cheerleaders Die has an eclectic and well-curated choice of songs for its soundtrack, ranging from Rap to softer Pop hits. They all fit the high school themes in the movie sprinkled throughout the story. The 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack is a powerful mix with an excellent sound design. This was a better audio experience than I was expecting for an independent horror comedy, including a spacious soundstage and thumping bass. There are more surround cues and directional movements across the soundfield than the typical horror film.
Subtitles of the English SDH variety are included in a white font. Constant Image Height users will be glad to know the subs remain inside the 2:39:1 widescreen ratio at all times.
Image Entertainment could have easily dumped this on home video with no special features. The included documentary is nicely made, interviewing producer Andrew van den Houton and most of the cast in easygoing sessions. Most of the interviews were clearly taken on set, the actresses appear in their cheerleading outfits. I find that the frivolity of a B-movie frees up the actors in these type of interviews – no one feels compelled to give the “right” answers.
Making The Squad: A Behind The Scenes Look (23:45 in HD) – While this is not an exhaustive documentary covering the entire production, it’s a relaxed look at the film from the set. We get glimpses of filming actual scenes from the movie, this is more intimate than a lot of the standard press kit material found on Blu-ray. We find out the Australian roots for much of the cast, which none of them gave away in the film.
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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.