I can’t give Cooties a rigid thumb’s up, but I also can’t give it a limp thumb’s down. It’s more like a horizontal thumb. It worked for me at being a horror comedy, but that was about it. Zombie movies aren’t really my favorite sub-genre, but if done right I have a tendency to like them. A good example of this is Zombeavers (2014), a funny as hell horror comedy about zombified beavers. I shit you not. But basically this sub-genre is getting overexposed. Every time I turn around there’s news of another zombie movie getting made and the ones that really get my goat are disguised zombie movies. I’m looking at you 28 Days Later (2002) and Planet Terror (2007). Cooties falls into this category too. The infected, which happen to be kids this time (infected by tainted chicken nuggets), turn into cannibalistic terrors, and to make it even more like a zombie movie a whole county of kids are infected, making it looking like a zombie apocalypse in the final act when our survivors make it out of the school they were trapped in.
Now I must attack the title. When I first heard there was going to be a horror flick called, Cooties, I thought, oh, great, a creature feature! Apparently, the filmmaker’s definition of cooties is a lot different than mine ever was growing up. Cooties were something akin to lice when I was in grade school. “Don’t touch me, you’ve got cooties!” which meant some mythical lice/tick-like organism had the potential to infect you if you were touched by a “cootie infected” kid. I naturally assumed that was common knowledge. I guess everyone has his or her own definition of what a cootie is, but stretching it to include a pseudo-zombie infection, was just plain disappointing for me.
The cast, however, is solid. Elijah Wood plays Clint Hadson, a two-year experienced first grade teacher who nostalgic for that ex-chick, Lucy McCormick, (Allison Pill), he once dated fifteen years ago (so sad that I can sympathize with this) decides to move back to his hometown of Fort Chicken once he learns she’s a teacher at the old grade school he once attended as a kid. He gets a job substituting and feigns ignorance at knowing she was here, but nostalgia turns to shit (yup, I know how that is too) when he learns she’s dating obnoxious dick of a gym teacher, Wade Johnson (Rainn Wilson).
I did love the fact that these events are all taking place on a Monday, because as we all know if terrible shit happens it must either occur on a Monday or around a holiday, like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Thanksgiving, though, would have been the more apropos time frame for this one.
The viral infection starts with this little blonde girl turns the table on these two douchebag kids taunting her and takes a chunk out of the cheek of one of them. The infection then spirals out of the control during recess as this kid runs around in slow motion scratching anyone he gets near and passing it on. Soon, like in seconds, they’re all sporting facial sores and tearing any adult near them into pieces.
The teachers are quickly whittled down to our core players: Clint, Lucy, Wade, Doug (Leigh Whannell), the sex-ed teacher; Tracey Lacey (Jack McBrayer), Rebbekah Halverson (Nasim Pedrad), the janitor Hitachi (Peter Kwong). Aside from Clint and Lucy the other standouts were Wade, Doug and Rebbekah. These were the funniest other characters and with Rebbekah I thought she was just plain hot. Doug I would have to say was the funniest of the three. He has a lot of issues, some of which stem from an accident where he had some kind of metal rod inserted into his back or his skull or something. Saying he’s a little bit off is putting it mildly. He may be the sex-ed teacher, but he enjoys biology and takes it upon himself to quell his curiosity into what’s making these kids turn into pseudo-zombies by taking one they’ve just killed and dissecting its brain. Every one of these movies needs a “scientist character” that’ll give us the skinny on the nuts and bolts of the fan hitting shit where reveling in as viewers and Doug is that character.
The virus infects the brain and just kills it with only the basic functions like running, walking, eating being sustained, and this particular “zombie” virus only infects pre-pubescent individuals (aka children). You get infected as an adult and what you’ll get are symptoms of a stomach flu (aka puking, diarrhea, fever). That’s all. Been there, done that too.
The gore is heavy in this one, but seeing as the nature of the movie is about 3-foot tall cannibals, yeah, it pretty much has to be.
On December 1st Lionsgate releases Cooties in separate DVD and Blu-ray editions!
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 2.39:1 high definition widescreen—5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio—English, English SDH, Spanish
Extras included . . .
- Cast and Crew Commentary
- Circle, Circle, Dot, Dot. . .Catching Cooties (13:20)
- Deleted/Alternate/Extended Scenes (16:03)
- Gag Reel (4:03)
- Alternate Ending with Optional Commentary (4:13)
- Talking Cooties (9:18)
And now one more complaint I must lodge. Can Hollywood ever just end anything? Remember when movies had a beginning, middle and end and that was it? I do, but not so much these days. Everything is just a beginning chapter, and Cooties ends with the mandatory sequel set-up as all our teachers drive off into the night in their van to find a place in the county, maybe even the world, we don’t know yet how far it’s spread, that isn’t overrun by “zombie kids.”