Last night’s Lifetime movie The Cheerleader Murders had a pretty high body count, but its heroine really should have had “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child as her theme song. Nearly everyone close to her was murdered, yet she made it through the whole thing with only a couple of skinned knees.
Said heroine is a 16-year-old (not 17 for once) girl named Ellie (Samantha Boscarino) who tells us via voiceover about a curse that led to the deaths of several teenagers where she used to live. I wouldn’t really call that a curse, just teenagers being irresponsible, but okay. Ellie explains that the curse afflicted her older sister, whose ex-boyfriend broke into their house to murder her and their father while Ellie watched.
Ellie and her mom (Tessie Santiago) moved to a new town, and considering all the bad things that start to happen, maybe there really is a curse. A curse that kills everyone around Ellie but spares her so she’s free to have guilt dreams involving her dead father’s ghost. So maybe it’s not actually luck after all. The point is, she survives a lot of dangerous situations while everyone around her bites the dust.
One night, Ellie is studying with her fellow cheerleaders Dee (Amanda Leighton) and Morgan (Hannah Kasulka) at Morgan’s house. Ellie and Dee are teasing Morgan about her crush on the football coach (Henderson Wade) and saying she has daddy issues. Then Morgan is all, “Well, at least I have a dad.” Why do people in movies say these things to people with dead relatives? Like, what kind of comeback is that? “Well, at least my dad wasn’t murdered, so… take that, loser.” Obviously Ellie is offended and decides to leave. Good decision, Ellie.
I say it was a good decision because as soon as Ellie’s gone, the girls are attacked by a masked intruder. When they don’t show up the next day at school or for the football game (which is attended by like a dozen people, because I guess this school isn’t very popular), Ellie decides to go back to the house to look for them. Somehow she is the first one to even wonder where they are. No idea what their parents were doing for the past 24 hours, but it wasn’t looking for their daughters. Ellie discovers blood on the bathroom walls that really looks more like spilled nail polish if you ask me. Maybe a manicurist attacked them.
A jogger ends up discovering Morgan’s severed leg on the side of the road. Not long after that, Ellie finds a really tacky ceramic bunny in her room. It’s the same kind of bunny that Morgan said she had found in her room the day she died. Um, it’s a little late for an Easter-themed murder mystery, Lifetime.
Because the cops in these movies are always useless, Ellie makes signs to help search for Dee, who’s still missing. The signs read “Missing Cheerleader,” because I guess people are more likely to care about a missing teenage girl if they know she’s a cheerleader. I mean, it really can’t hurt to remind people that the popular kids are more important. In fact, if one of my friends ever goes missing, I’m just going to tell everyone she’s a cheerleader, even if she isn’t. Thanks for the tip, Lifetime!
A cop is assigned to watch Ellie’s house, but, like I said before, cops are useless. So useless that Ellie’s boyfriend Nick (Austin Lyon) is able to go up to the house and climb through her bedroom window without them noticing. Always a good idea to break into your girlfriend’s room when her friend was just murdered. Also always a good idea to try to use the situation to get into her pants. Ugh, Lifetime boys, am I right?
Nick is just one of several possible suspects in this movie. The others are Coach Reeves, who may or may not have been sexting with Morgan but was definitely banging Ellie’s married teacher Mrs. Taylor (Annie Monroe). Morgan apparently knew about it. Then there’s Creepy Ben (Devin Crittenden), the school outcast who looks about 30 years old. Turns out he is involved in some of the weirdness that’s been going down, but he’s not the killer.
Ellie discovers this when she goes over to his house and discovers a shelf full of ceramic bunnies. He explains to the cops that he left the bunnies at their houses so they would like him. Okay, hold up. How does breaking into someone’s house to anonymously leave a ceramic bunny do anything to make someone like you? Can I have a spin-off movie about Creepy Ben to better understand this plot point, please?
When Ellie goes to visit Morgan’s memorial, she sees the same car she saw on the street the night of the murder. So obviously she follows it to an abandoned house and then breaks into said house when the person driving the car leaves. Her Scooby Doo-ing turns out to be for good when she finds Dee tied up in the basement and helps her escape. But it doesn’t really matter, because the killer returns and, after a dramatic chase through an orchard, stabs Dee. Ellie drives away. If you’re keeping count, that’s her sister, her dad, and her two best friends all murdered. And Ellie’s hair still looks flawless!
Ellie’s boyfriend Nick starts to act suspiciously when he sees her drawing of the car she followed. He tells her he’s the one who’s actually cursed and walks away from a makeout session. So he must be the killer, right? Wrong. That’s way too obvious. The cops do track Dee’s phone to Nick’s house, however, and it’s there that they find the car, blood in the trunk, and a bag with the knife in Nick’s room. They arrest him, even though he says he didn’t do it. Then he kills himself in jail. So go ahead and add him to the list.
The cops tell Ellie’s mom that “it ends here,” but there’s still 15 minutes left, so obviously that’s not true. Ellie goes to see Nick’s father Don, whom we’ve seen approximately three times before this. So obviously he’s the real killer.
Why did he do it, you ask? Well, as his sister conveniently explains to the police chief at exactly the same time Ellie finds Dee’s phone on the kitchen counter, their father assaulted a group of teenage girls, and Don blamed the girls for it. So I guess it follows that he really hates cheerleaders or something. I don’t really know. But he and Nick apparently moved around a lot, so it sounds like murdering cheerleaders is kind of his hobby. The cops should probably look into that.
When Ellie figures out what’s going on, she runs, but Don chases her. It’s a good thing Ellie’s mom got a call from the police chief telling her not to go to Don’s house. And it’s also a good thing that she promptly ignored him, because she ends up hitting Don with her car and killing him. If she’d shown up just a few seconds before, it would have been Ellie lying dead on the ground. But at this point I’m pretty sure Ellie is immortal, so…
Everybody who lives in Ellie and her mom’s new town better watch out.