If Buzzfeed ever compiles a list of the worst 23 movies in which gangs of leggy high-school girls walk in slow motion down locker-lined corridors as slack-jawed dudes look on in awestruck disbelief, there’s a strong new contender for the top spot. May director Lucky McKee and Golden Raspberry winner Chris Sivertson (he made I Know Who Killed Me with Lindsay Lohan) first released a movie called All Cheerleaders Die back in 2001. Shot for peanuts, it was an obvious attempt to exploit the post-Buffy chick-horror boom. Now they’ve taken another crack at it, with a few more dollars, and the results are patchily entertaining, if thoroughly derivative.
Maddy (Caitlin Stasey) is a high-school video nerd with a yen for vengeance; her hastily cooked scheme involves befriending airhead cheerleader Tracy (Brooke Butler) and her vapid clique so she can bring them down from the inside. So far, so Heathers, but then things get out of hand and both girls end up dead at the bottom of the river. Enter local witch Leena (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) and her magic stones.
The film tries to walk that fine line between exploitation and empowerment: With its lesbian central characters, ass-kicking cheerleaders and kill-the-jocks plotline, it’s intended as some kind of feminist statement. It isn’t, of course, because it’s also crammed with slo-mo seminudity and brainless bimbettes on the rampage. There’s stuff to enjoy—a handful of smart one-liners, a few nifty shocks and one truly unsettling confrontation in a cemetery—but nothing to give Joss Whedon a run for his money.
Follow Tom Huddleston on Twitter: @TomHuddleston_