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Q&A: Sianoa Smit-McPhee on “ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE”

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Not dissimilar to zombies taking over the pop culture zeitgeist, there seems to be a curious resurgence of witch films in the independent scene as well. For horror fans, the 2014 version of ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE offers a bit of both, and enough to catch even jaded genre audiences off-guard.

ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE is as effective from the strong direction of Chris Siverston and Lucky McKee as it is from its wonderfully charismatic cast, each of whom pull their weight to bring the laughs and gasps in high order. FANGORIA spoke with ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE’s resident spellbinder, Sianoa Smit-McPhee, on the film and her curious real-life connection to magic…

FANGORIA: What attracted you to a project such as ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE?

SIANOA SMIT-MCPHEE: Well, actually, when I came to the film, I auditioned for the role of Maddy. But once I read the script, I thought, “No way. I want to be Leena,” so I then auditioned that role. What drew me to Leena was how she was really into crystals and magic, and when I was little I was into all of that. But I’m also fascinated by crystals now as well, so that also drew me to it. The role just was really fun, and the film is like nothing I’ve ever done before. It’s just really creative, quirky horror with people drinking blood, and that’s always fun.

FANG: Did you do any extra research on witchcraft culture before taking on the role, especially considering your interest in the subject?

SMIT-MCPHEE: Basically with every role I do, I work a little extra on it anyway. So after I got the job, I had a meeting with Chris and Lucky, so I brought them these designs with like 300 photos and had all of this information on what I saw as Leena. We were all basically on the same page, so they sent me to the costume director. Luckily, I didn’t have to change any of my ideas of who Leena was because we all had the same inspirations for her.

FANG: Were you familiar with the fact that this project was a remake of their earlier film? Did Chris or Lucky ask you to watch the original or was that never discussed?

SMIT-MCPHEE: I hadn’t seen the film at all. We were all told that they had made one ages ago and [Chris & Lucky] told us that maybe one day, we’ll get to see it. It sounded like it was under wraps or that only they had it or something. But I’d be interested to see it now that I’ve done the movie. I think some of the characters are different, so it’s not exactly the same, but it’s interesting.

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FANG: Your portrayal of a witch character is somewhat unconventional. Were you a fan of horror in general before boarding the project?

SMIT-MCPHEE: I totally hate horror movies [laughs]! I just don’t like scary pictures or anything like that since I’m such a baby. I’m scared of everything. Even sometimes watching ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE, there are two times where something happens and I have to close my eyes.

FANG: Was it a different experience for you in working with two directors on ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE?

SMIT-MCPHEE: It wasn’t so different. On most projects, it’s almost like they’re one-in-the-same because there’s similar relationships on each production. Maybe not on every production, but on ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE, the set was tight and everyone looked out for each other. It was actually super relaxing and we were all on the same page with both Chris and Lucky on everything. We were all excited to make this film and even the crew members didn’t mind being on set for so long, because it was like a familial experience being there. My husband was also on set every day, and because we make music, Chris and Lucky asked us to write a song for the movie. So our song is in the movie, and we wrote other songs for the movie, one of which is the first song you hear in the trailer. They’re going to be on the soundtrack, as well. It’s cool to have been able to balance acting and music on this movie because both of those things are very close to [my husband and I].

FANG: Without going too far into spoiler territory, would you be game to come back for a sequel considering on the note on which the film ends?

SMIT-MCPHEE: Well, after we made the film, we talked about it and it’s really been on their minds to do another ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE. We just have to see how the film is received by the public but if they want another film, we’ll make another film. We just have to wait and see, but if it goes well, we’re definitely making another film.

ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE is currently available on most VOD platforms, and will be in limited theaters and iTunes this Friday, June 13th from Image Entertainment.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Web Content Manager for FANGORIA, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, a graphic novel and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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