CHEER OR DIE promo art


2 stars  

directed by: Karen Lam
starring: Kerri Medders, Alten Wilmot, Mateo Adamos, Sierra Holder, Alexandra Beaton, Rudy Borgonia, Marlowe Zimmerman, Missi Pyle, Sam Robert Muik, Madison MacIsaac, Tiera Skovbye, Erika Prevost, Samuel Braun, Alec Carlos, Makena Zimmerman, Shannon Guile, Jared Khalifa, Gino Anania, Aidan Ritchie

choice dialogue:

“You’re doing this because you hate cheerleaders?”

- Every killer needs a motive.

slash with panache?


[review by JA Kerswell]

  CHEER OR DIE is the seventh installment on the BRING IT ON series - this time with a slasher twist.

Sadly, despite a fun premise, CHEER OR DIE falls flat on its ass. A group of cheerleaders are stalked and killed by someone in their team mascot’s devil costume at an abandoned High School. The latest in the long-running BRING IT ON series goes the slasher route for its seventh entry but mostly squanders its campy potential. Although, for the very undemanding, there’s some generic fun to be had.

In 2002, a young cheerleader atop a pyramid is sabotaged by one of the other girls and falls to the floor breaking her neck. Fast-forward 20 years and a newly formed cheerleader squad called the Diablos is preparing their new routine for competition. Led by Abby (Kerri Medders) and her co-captain McKayla (Tiera Skovbye), the group practice moves banned by the school principal (a severely underutilised Missi Pyle). Ever since the tragedy in 2002, pyramids are forbidden and the principal tells Abby and McKayla that they must not practice them on school grounds.

Worried that the group will flunk the competition, Abby comes up with a plan that means they can still continue at a near-derelict High school across town. On Halloween weekend, the cheerleading squad take a bus to the school to “Practice until we drop!” Only they are picked off one-by-one by someone dressed as their team mascot. Can they utilise their cheerleader moves to make it until morning?

  The Diablo mascot is hunting cheerleaders in CHEER OR DIE.

I was rooting for CHEER OR DIE. It has a perfect popcorn-slasher setting. It has a fun mascot-suited killer - who has the novelty of using throwing knives as part of their arsenal. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously. It has bitchy characters and some snappy dialogue. It should have been a lot of silly, campy fun - but it largely left me cold. Part of the problem is that the film has little zip. Ironic given the youthful razzle-dazzle of cheerleading competition - where everything is blindingly white smiles, death-defying back flips and neon costuming. Yet CHEER OR DIE never really comes alive. Despite a few good performances, it’s clear that many of the players have been chosen for their aerobic skills rather than their thespian ones. The kills are inventive yet mostly bloodless. Some of the dialogue and jokes land, but most stumble and it is sometimes even difficult to make out what some of the characters are saying. A mystifying technical flub for a film released by Universal Studios. The film has no glitz and has that flat, drab feel of many modern medium-budgeted made-for-streaming movies. Strangely, the only time the film genuinely feels like it has some life to it is during the behind-the-scenes dance rehearsals that play alongside the end credits.

  CHEER OR DIE has some entertaining touches, but fails to really come alive despite a fun premise.

It isn’t all bad. Any film where cheerleaders are chased down dark corridors by a psycho is a mascot costume can’t fail all of the time - and there are some fun chase scenes. I also liked how the squad used their cheer skills to avoid the arrows the killer fires or to fight back. The motive is pleasingly absurd, too. The script is aiming for SCREAM (1996) style greatness. One character is killed when a TV is dropped on his head. There are characters called Stu and Sydney. There’s even the use of a Republica song. Ultimately, though, the comparison isn’t a flattering one.

MY SUPER PSYCHO SWEET 16 (2009) was a teen slasher comedy that got it right. Taking the classic slasher movie template and riffing off it with pop culture references and some distinctively inventive touches - who could forget the decapitated roller skater gatecrashing the party? Perhaps had CHEER OR DIE featured more gore or just pushed its inherent campiness up a couple of notches it would have worked better.

I have to admit, I have never seen any of the other BRING IT ON films before seeing this. Adding the slasher twist to the formula was inspired. With CHEER OR DIE, the idea is there but sadly the execution never really gets off the ground.


CHEER OR DIE is available on Bluray from Amazon.


BODYCOUNT 10   bodycount!   female: 6 / male: 5

1) Female falls from cheerleader pyramid
      2) Female suffocated with pompom
      3) Female strangled with blood pressure machine
      4) Female beaten to death with a toiler seat
      5) Male whacked in the back with an axe
      6) Male has TV set dropped on his head
      7) Male shot in forehead with an arrow
      8) Male found hung with knife in his head
      9) Female has throat cut with a hoe
     10) Male impaled on a spear
     11) Female run over with a bus



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