With all the finesse of a bullhorn that sprays noise and blood, "All Cheerleaders Die" shows just how difficult it is to pump life into the shopworn teen horror-comedy genre.
Writer-directors Lucky McKee ("The Woman") and Chris Sivertson ("I Know Who Killed Me") try the anything-goes approach. First, cynical outsider Maddy (Caitlin Stasey) reacts to her cheerleader friend's sudden death by joining the school's venal pep squad to destroy it and sleazy football captain Terry (Tom Williamson) from within.
Not satisfied with the grind house possibilities there, the filmmakers then throw in lipstick lesbianism, pot-smoking antics, a fatal car accident, vengeful witchcraft with mind-melding crystals that glow, and finally a roving pack of reanimated zombie-fied cheerleaders in gory combat with suddenly psychopathic jocks.
Such an ingredients list will probably be enough to satisfy some, but for everyone else — especially those energized by McKee's disarmingly psychological horror oeuvre — it's painfully sloppy in nearly every way, built on empty aggression, emptier caricatures and garishly unfunny jokes rather than anything truly provocative or witty to say about teenage emotions on a rolling boil.
By the end, it's just a dull blur of moonlit screaming, chomping, slicing and oozing.
"All Cheerleaders Die."
MPAA rating: None.
Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes.
Playing: At AMC Burbank Town Center 8.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times