Growing up, kids often referred to each other as having cooties, an imaginary germ or repellent that one would catch if they touched the opposite sex. A silly innocent game of pretend. Or is it? If you watch 2015’s Cooties, you may rethink your stance on the whole idea. I know I did. Let’s just say you wouldn’t want to jokingly tell someone you have cooties after watching this movie: they may take it a bit more seriously…
Directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion; based on the screenplay written by Leigh Whannell, Ian Brennan, and Josh C. Waller, Cooties brings us a new type of horror comedy with zombie kids! It’s a fun and cheesy movie with an awesome cast: Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Jack McBrayer, Leigh Whannell, Nasim Pedrad, Ian Brennan, and Jorge Garcia. Cooties had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014 but was released September 18th, 2015 through video on demand by Lionsgate Premiere.
Cooties begins when a 4th-grade student at Ft. Chicken Elementary, Shelly Linker (Sunny May Allison) eats a contaminated chicken nugget – it’s obviously bad as it has black marks on it. Meanwhile, eager horror writer Clint Hadson (Wood) substitutes at the elementary and reunites with his former school crush, Lucy McCormick (Pill). However, sadly for Hadson, she’s already taken by the P.E. teacher, Wade Johnson (Wilson).
During his first class, Clint witnesses a disturbing incident when one of his students, Shelly Linker, viciously attacks a student after he pulls on her ponytail – which comes right off her head. It’s not much longer until an epidemic of cooties reaches all of the kids and the only people safe from the disease are the adults who have already surpassed puberty. They may be immune, but will they be able to survive the night as he number of infectious zombie kids multiply?
I’m a sucker for horror comedies, rarely do I find one I don’t like, and Cooties didn’t disappoint. First, I have to mention how awesome this cast is. They’re enough reason to give this movie a watch, specifically Elijah Wood and Rainn Wilson. They each deliver awesome performances, great humor and create fun characters. Elijah Wood plays Chad a wannabe horror writer who dreams of a different life far more interesting than the one he’s living, one that gets him the girl as well. Elijah is always incredibly versatile with his roles: psycho, hobbit, what have you. He always kills it! Rainn Wilson is what sold it for me though and he is always a fan favorite. This was the perfect role for him: a weird dude with a rocking mustache and awesome dialogue. Boom, what’s not to love?
The other thing I loved about this movie was the setting. The outbreak happens at school and the infection only affects the kids who have not hit puberty yet. Although that’s a super silly scenario, it’s a perfect reason to why the adults were immune despite being scratched without reaching too far for an explanation. Throughout the history of horror, there has been several different formations of killer kids, even a few zombie ones, but these little fuckers are a force to be reckoned with. The spreading of the infection happens so fast, making you think “Hey if you ever want to wipe out a huge group of people, kids are the way to do it.”
It’s hard to think of anything that I didn’t like about this movie, but if I had to pick anything it would be the opening credits. The first scene with the chickens was a bit graphic for me. Although I’m a fan of blood, guts, and horror, I’m always a little sensitive…well super sensitive when it comes to animals. Therefore, while I understand the importance of the beginning, I think some of it wasn’t necessary.
Final Thoughts: Cooties is a horror comedy that the whole family can enjoy. Beyond the beginning, nothing about the movie is too graphic and it’s mostly just cheesy cootie-infected fun! If anything, it’ll make you think twice about what you put into your mouth.