Picks and Pans Review: Willing to Kill: the Texas Cheerleader Story
High school football is such an all consuming passion in Texas that even election to the cheerleading squad can become a life-and-death issue—literally, in the case of this fact-based film set in the town of Channel-view, near Houston.
Lesley Ann Warren plays Wanda Holloway (PEOPLE, Sept. 23, 1991), an ungainly, insecure woman living vicariously through her daughter (Olivia Burnette). She grooms and trains the girl from an early age for the local high school's prestigious pep squad. But nothing seems to work out for Wanda, while her neighbor Verna Heath (Tess Harper) and Verna's daughter. Amber (Lauren Woodland), keep succeeding at every competition. Eventually, Holloway comes to see Heath as the cause of her frustration, imagining a concerted plot to thwart her dreams. She contacts her unsavory former brother-in-law (William Forsythe) to hire a hit man to kill Amber, but settles on the more economical plan of shooting Verna, hoping that the death of the mother will make the daughter too distraught to try out for the high school squad. But in real life the brother-in-law was wearing a wire during their negotiations, and Holloway was convicted of solicitation for capital murder. She is now free on bond awaiting a second trial.
Though the film completely runs out of steam by the time of Holloway's arrest and trial, up until then this is a sad little tale of obsession, made involving and psychologically authentic by a good cast.