Girls Against the Boys
This seemed like a no-budget exploitation film from the cover. Any time you see cheerleaders and blood it tends to get dismissed as slasher gore. There’s a stigma, a well-earned one at that.
But All Cheerleaders Die is not from the gutter. They had a budget, a serious crew and a number of experienced people behind it. Director Lucky McKee scored a shocking minor hit in 2011 with The Woman, a similar gender-based conflict.
The Woman was an incredible film that sticks in your memory, with a powerful story of domination and revolutionary, brutal violence. Essentially a wild woman is found living in the woods by a Christian fundamentalist hunter. He captures/kidnaps her to store in his barn, and things turn creepy from there.
The cheerleader story is more fantastical, but not at first. It’s a high school “bitch” vs. “dogs” hyper-drama at the start. The cheerleaders assert themselves as strong and independent. The football players, led by a particularly creepy sociopath, seek to dominate them. The pot boils.
Enter the Wicca girl who has a crush on one of the cheerleaders. When the battle of the sexes careens out of control and off a cliff, supernatural forces are called upon.
I liked the film, for the most part. Where I thought it went awry was having too many characters, and too many similar characters to keep track of. There’s an entire cheer squad and a bunch of football jocks. Several tended to blend together, and some of the girls even look similar.
The problem with too many characters compressed into the same screen time is that we don’t get enough of any of them to really care. Less is more. There is no room for backstory, and it all plays out pretty much over the course of a couple of days. It tends to lack the bite of a more epic tale. It lacks a past and a future, and it merely plays for laughs and the expected main conflict.
This is definitely a YA type of world, but sort of the opposite of what a novel seeks to elicit. Approaches are so different. The story is all on the surface, where I wish it would have gone deeper.
Perhaps It was just a grindhouse exploitation film after all.