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article imageReview: 'All Cheerleaders Die' breaks the teen revenge mold Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 10, 2013 in Entertainment
In ‘All Cheerleaders Die,’ an outcast signs up for a high school cheerleading squad to humble the school’s reigning couple, but events force her to alter her mission.
Cheerleading is one of the most competitive sports in the U.S. though it tends to be dismissed by most or overshadowed by the athletic competitions at which they perform. It’s also one of the most dangerous, resulting in two-thirds of all catastrophic injuries among women and ranking second only to American football. But high school is a hazardous playing field and hormones makes teens do crazy things. In All Cheerleaders Die, all these threats combine to make senior year more difficult to survive than ever.
A serious accident opens a spot on the cheerleading squad, but everyone is surprised when high school rebel Maddy (Caitlin Stasey) turns up at tryouts with a new look and team spirit. Except she has an ulterior motive for her newfound enthusiasm that brings about some significant conflicts within the group and seemingly irreversible consequences. However, when new lines are drawn the scales begin to shift in the ladies favour – until the football captain goes to extreme measures to make a distressing comeback.
The title is an exaggerated play on the statistics regarding cheerleading injuries, but it adopts a significantly different meaning when the battle between the squad and football players heats up. Though this probably isn't the story you're expecting. It's not about rival teams vying for attention on the field or pulling harmless pranks on their so-called teammates. There's a love connection – highlighted with cheesy romantic orchestral music – but not the traditional teen movie kind. In this case, witchcraft changes everything.
The script has a Heathers sense of humour about adolescence. Everything happening is crucial from the intense two-month relationship to the first football rally of the year. Life moves quicker and short periods of time feel like a lifetime. One character even exclaims, "But that was last week!" when confronted with a change of heart. This mindset also allows the core narrative to take place over just a few days since the teens would push through so much in that limited time.
These aren't Valley teens, but that doesn't prevent most of their conversations from being humorously vacuous and their interactions entertainingly superficial -- when they're not shiny and bloody.
All Cheerleaders Die is screening as part of the Midnight Madness programme during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which runs September 5 to 15.
Directors: Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson
Starring: Caitlin Stasey, Sianoa Smit-McPhee and Brooke Butler
More about All Cheerleaders Die, Caitlin Stasey, Sianoa SmitMcPhee, Brooke Butler, Tom Williamson
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