June 12, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Tom Long

Review: Cheesy 'All Cheerleaders Die' contributes to teen body count

Dead cheerleaders come back to life as blood-sucking monsters with school spirit. (Image Entertainment)

Gee, take a wild guess as to what happens in “All Cheerleaders Die.”

The viewing sport of watching teenagers die one after another in movies probably dates back to the mid-’70s and the rise of the slasher genre. The chief audience for these movies has always been, of course, teenagers. Which means teenagers have been enthusiastically watching teenagers die on screen now for close to 40 years.

Talk about your great American traditions.

The psychological reasons behind this phenomenon — self-loathing, peer jealousy, survival pride, sheer primal bloodlust — are certainly open to discussion, and the potential impact on recent generations is shiver-inducing. But one thing is for sure — this basic story has been told and told again.

So the one thing “All Cheerleaders Die” isn’t is new. It isn’t particularly coherent, visually inventive or emotionally affecting either, but there’s a certain sense of familiarity here that genre fans will find soothing in a twisted way. That which was initially supposed to shock has become so common it lulls us with well-worn turns, bloody though they may be.

Meet Maddy (Caitlin Stasey), a wallflower who has bloomed just in time for her senior year and is now joining the snobby cheerleading squad. What her fellow pep pushers don’t know is that in truth she wants to punish them for the accidental death of a friend last year.

To get things going, she tells fellow squad hottie Tracy (Brooke Butler) that her boyfriend has been cheating on her. Then she and Tracy begin your basic convenient teen exploitation flick lesbian relationship. Which ends up causing a war between the cheerleaders and the guys on the football team.

At this point, the movie can either go the crazed killer route or take a supernatural turn. Supernatural, here we come.

Because Maddy has an old friend named Leena (Siaona Smit-McPhee) who is your basic witch-in-training with some magic stones. When tragedy strikes the cheerleaders, Leena brings them back to life with her magic stones.

One problem: The revived cheerleaders are no longer just cheerleaders. They’re blood-sucking, super-strong monster cheerleaders. They’re still, cute, though, which is what matters. They may eat the odd neighbor, but they’ve still got school spirit.

Writer-directors Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson rise and fall with the supernatural turn. Monster cheerleaders is a nice idea, but the visual effects are so weak that the magic stones become laughable. Which may be the point, but script doesn’t have enough wit to look down condescendingly upon itself. As a result, “All Cheerleaders Die” is essentially the very thing it wants to make fun of.

'All Cheerleaders Die'

GRADE: C-

Not rated

Running time: 90 minutes

tlong@detroitnews.com
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