Thursday, August 7, 2014

Stream a horror hoot w/ rapist villain: the Lucky McKee/Chris Siverston ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE

Back in 2011, anyone fortunate (and strong) enough to sit through Lucky McKee & writer Jack Ketchum's one-of-a-kind horror tale, The Woman, found themselves watching a film that -- due to its theme (the male prerogative gone bananas) and execution (sterling) -- immediately entered the pantheon of horror classics. Mr McKee is back this year with lighter fare -- ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE -- on which he collaborated with Chris Siverston. The theme is again the nasty rise of masculine entitlement, specifically that of the very timely situation of sports stars who abuse and rape women, but the handling here is satirical, funny and loosey-goosey as anything you're likely to see.

While the filmmakers' story (that's McKee above, right, with Siverston) is handled with wit, humor and bite (metaphorical and literal), the villain remains the male abuser -- a figure of appealing sexiness who slowly morphs into an uber-creep sprouting manifold entitlement and zero remorse -- played nastily and well by Tom Williamson, shown below and at bottom. Mr. McKee, I warrant, is a feminist filmmaker.

The movie begins as a kind of mockumentary in which a student journalist follows around a head cheerleader, who explains in an hilariously loony fashion how her school/cheerleading/love life works. This segment ends rather abruptly with a dark and funny shock, and we're off to the races.

What initially begins as a comedy satire becomes a story of man/woman revenge, and then -- thanks to the school Wiccan (a creepy/pretty Sianoa Smit-McPhee, below) doing some casting of stones -- morphs into a supernatural tale in which our group of suddenly dead cheerleaders comes back to life to wreak some real revenge. Except it ain't that easy because our football star/villain proves a little too smart/nasty to be put down.

There is a rather high silliness quotient here, but McKee and Siverston manage to keep things moving so fast and furiously that we can pretty much accept it all and go with the rapid flow. Visually, the film is fun -- colorful (lots of red blood, as you might expect, but many other pretty colors, too) with some nice lighting effects.

The acting is unusually good for this sort of film, with each of the cheerleaders effectively standing out in her own way. Brook Butler (above, with Michael Bowen) is terrifically funny, subtle and sexy as blond bimbo Tracy, while the quite beautiful Caitlin Stasey (below) makes a properly confused and conniving heroine bent on somehow doing the right thing.

Older/younger sisters (played by Amanda Grace Cooper, below, and Reanin Johannink) complete the quartet of dead-alives, each with her own pretty-colored, body-embedded crystal.

All Cheerleaders Die is simply too all-over-the-place to have ever been a mainstream horror hit. But for those who have a taste for this sort of flashy, funny, fun and gore that offers a nicely propulsive forward thrust, you should not be disappointed.

The movie can be seen now via Netflix streaming and other digital venues, as well as on DVD.

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