It's one of the defining moments of history. Speaking in Washington DC, in 1963, Dr Martin Luther King shared his dream for racial equality, his hope that one day all Americans would be judged 'not by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character'. While King's words rung clear on that day, and continue to echo down the years, his optimism remains largely unrealised; indeed, it's impossible to watch Selma without drawing obvious parallels with what's happening publically in places like Ferguson and Staten Island and on an unreported daily basis across the USA. Yet the power of Ava DuVernay's astonishing film is that it doesn't shy away from laying bare the political and cultural limitations placed on King's work, even as it celebrates his relentless endeavours.
Screenwriter Alex Garland has penned some excellent works of modern fantasy cinema, including 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Dredd, and stays firmly in the science fiction realm with his directorial debut. Here, he explores the consequences of truly successful artificial intelligence not with bombastic, apocalyptic effects or high-minded science but, ostensibly, through the prism of human emotion. His futuristic vision is no less ominous for its relatively low-key approach but, disappointingly, falls back on genre cliches and a tired depiction of gender relations.
Gender politics has always been at the beating heart of horror. While it could be argued that cinema as a whole is preoccupied with the white male experience, no other genre gouges such an indelible gender divide. Scary movies usually embrace the tired tropes of man as predator, woman as victim, or make a point of subverting or satirising them. The problem with All Cheerleaders Die is that it has an uneasy foot in both camps.