Starring: Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Jorge Garcia, Alison Pill, Nasim Penrad, Jack McBrayer
Running time: 88 Minutes
Directed by: Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion
Year of release: 2015
I’m honestly surprised by how many bad zombies movies have been made. It should not be as easy as it appears to screw up a zombie film. Yet it happens, time and time again. So when a movie comes along that is not only good but offers a fresh take on the genre, you have to embrace it with a hearty bite. Cooties is just such a film. This comedy/horror is a truly juvenile look at the zombie genre…literally.
At the Ft. Chicken elementary school, a fourth grade student consumes a chicken nugget that is filled with some truly disgusting black goo. Fledgling horror writer Clint Hadson (Wood), a former student at the school, has returned as a substitute teacher. He reconnects with an old flame, Lucy McCormick (Pill) and meets her obnoxious boyfriend. Wade (Wilson) the schools Phys Ed teacher. He also meets the rest of the rather loopy staff at the school including Tracy (McBrayer), Rebbekah (Penrad), and Doug (Whannell).
Shelly, the little girl who ate the tainted nugget, becomes sick, and infected with a virus that drives her to attack her classmates. The virus quickly spreads throughout the student body, driving them into a blood-fueled rage. A completely clueless Wade barely escapes the playground during recess with a horde of zombie children hot on his tail. Wade and the rest of the remaining teachers hide out in the school, trying to find a way to make if off the grounds, still pursued by the infected kids.
Doug determines that the reason none of the adults have been infected is that the virus only affects those who have not yet gone through puberty. Wade and Chad engage in personal battle for the love of Lucy as they rush down to the school’s last safe spot in the basement. Chad and Lucy undertake a dangerous mission to crawl through the ventilation shafts to retrieve the keys to Wade’s truck. But they will have to battle through hundreds of kid zombies before they can make it to safety.
Cooties is more like “28 Days Later” than “Night of the Living Dead” in that the infected move at full speed and the virus spreads almost instantly. It’s at once both hilarious and terrifying to see the group of adults running for their lives from a bunch of elementary kids. School’s out indeed! And despite the fact that the zombies are 10 and 11 year old kids Directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion do not hold anything back. Cooties is just as vicious and gore-filled as other zombie films. It definitely earns its R rating.
The cast is superb. Wood plays his usual innocent nice guy role. There’s even a joke about hobbits. Contrasting him is Rainn Wilson’s insufferable portrayal as Wade. All of the other cast members blend in equally as well with a script that is witty and hilarious. Also joining the cast, although he doesn’t meet up with the rest of the group until near the film’s end is Jorge Garcia of “Lost” fame who plays Rick, a school crossing guard with a taste for magic mushrooms. Rick spends most of the film in his van, talking to himself and completely oblivious to the carnage around him.
Cooties might not be on the same level as Shawn of the Dead but it is one of the better horror comedies to come out in a while. Oh and make sure you have a strong stomach for the opening sequence that shows how chicken nuggets are made!
• 12 deleted/extended/alternate scenes and an alternate ending with optional commentary.
• Gag reel (4:00)
• Circle, Circle, Dot, Dot…Catching Cooties”- A featurette about how the project came about.
• “Talking Cooties”- 9 minutes of visual commentary
• Audio commentary with Rainn Wilson, Elijah Wood, Jack McBrayer, Alison Pill, Leigh Whannell, Ian Brennan, Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott).