Review: Cooties

A mysterious virus hits an isolated elementary school, transforming the kids into a feral swarm of mass savages. An unlikely hero must lead a motley band of teachers in the fight of their lives.

Cooties is the US version of The Lurgy and when you think how fantastic the idea of making this imaginary disease a reality for horror films is, it makes you wonder why it has taken so long. Well, enter Elijah Wood’s production company Spectrevision, the writers of Saw and Glee and directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion and this playground virus has been brought to hilarious and gory life. And yes you did read that right. From the writers of Saw… and Glee.

Elijah Wood plays Clint, a failed writer who has headed back to his home town to be a substitute teacher at his old school only for his first day to be somewhat marred by rampaging, flesh-eating kids! Might be worth backtracking a little there. Cootie is a food born virus which travelled in infected chicken nuggets which the kids happily devoured. The cooties disease then starts spreading through the school but will only infect pre-pubescent children. This leaves the teachers fighting for their lives to get out.

Wood is great casting as the failure Clint as the character needs the charm that Wood brings to it so that the audience can root for someone who is, well, a little pathetic at times. Once we’ve been given a little time to get to know Clint, Cooties doesn’t waste much time getting going, with some of the characters having to really be introduced once they are already in the mire. This leads to one, ultimately brilliant character, leaving you scratching your head for his first few lines, which whilst funny, felt a little odd.

Cooties is certainly more a comedy than a horror and for some this could be a downside but for me I thought the comedy worked really well and the gore was just an added bonus. And when it wants to have a kill or two in there it certainly doesn’t hold back, even children’s heads are not safe from heavy objects being rained down on them. Oh and the baby. The poor baby. It just didn’t see it coming.

The performances from the supporting cast are spot on with Rainn Wilson’s Wade providing the biggest laughs of the film. Especially when he first tries to tell Wood that his truck has a duel rear wheel – for me this was one of the funniest scenes this year. The directing was certainly more comedy driven but this was really script led but it did have some nice flashes horror wise, such as a wonderful tracking shot of the Cooties virus being spread through the playground. If there was one gripe for me it was that there was a little bit too much escaping the kids, getting into a room for while, the kids then getting access and the teachers then having to run into a another room and creating a new barricade, then being in that room for a while. This was seemingly used to keep all the characters together whilst delivering the exposition but so they didn’t have to remain in a single location. It did prevent the build up of any tension but it didn’t seem to be that the film was aiming for those sort of thrills. And they felt missed.

Overall Cooties won’t blow your mind as an amazing foray into filmmaking. But it is one hell a lot of fun. And that was what it set out to do, so from that perspective the film fully delivered. Worth your time to check it out.

In a world where zombie films are cheaply made and ten a penny, it can often be difficult sifting through to find the needle within the haystack of badly made films. Step up Cooties, almost 18 months after its original premier at Sundance – it makes its way on to DVD.

Cooties – playing off the imaginary children’s disease, features feral school children infected with the virus attacking and killing each other and the teachers of the overrun school. Entrapping the band of staff (led by Elijah Wood) within the building with a long distance between them and the ‘safety’ of the street.

For the first part the film expands well enough, with a number of short scenes and sequences that had me laughing out loud. That being said, at points also fell, hard. Two thirds of the way in and the film for me felt like it had run out of steam with the idea. For a good 15 minutes I was sat wondering what they were going to do that didn’t involve running round the school corridors.

The cast within the film are certainly capable (Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Jack McBrayer) and the comedic skills they possess are certainly without question. However the script in places felt all too predictable and a few roles (weedy english teacher, jock sports coach, etc) felt almost too like a stereotypical character from any forgettable high school coming of age feature. It felt that some characters lacked any real dimension, certainly a couple felt like they were written in without any development as they were not going to survive.

The final scenes within the funhouse is great but feels (like the film) like it comes to an almost sudden stop. Like most zombie films there isn’t any real conclusion as the world is already screwed, which is a shame. Cooties isn’t a very memorable film, but in the same sense isn’t awful. Its funny, has some good moments and gags, it just needed something more.

Cooties is out on DVD and Blu-Ray from 12th October 2015




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