Cooties is a horror comedy, and it does a good job of capturing aspects of both genres. It’s not great in either category with some of the jokes falling flat and for the fact it’s not a pure horror film. I don’t think the movie would have worked as a straight horror flick, but there are points when the movie does become frightening. Cooties is just a fun film, it’s not serious and doesn’t pretend to be. The characters are great tropes and the actors play them up well. Besides a bit of a stumble at the end the movie is a fun time and well worth watching.
The movie starts with the disgusting process of how composite chicken nuggets are made (I’m sure this was sensationalized for the movie….?? L). A bad piece of chicken infects a girl at the school where our hero, Clint (Elijah Wood), is substitute teaching. The girl starts infecting other students and before too long every child in the school is infected. The kids aren’t zombies in this world, they don’t die and reanimate. They are more of the 28 Days Later variety. They are still alive with a virus that is affecting their frontal lobe. This makes them hyper aggressive and want to eat adults. On the surface this is a silly concept. They make it believable in the world they are in, and the premise when stopping to think about it is terrifying. Children make the perfect delivery system. You don’t feel threatened by children, and then they attack you. Plus our natural instinct is to help kids, and the movie plays against this desire. This type of virus would spread like a wildfire. It could be my terror in thinking about how a virus like this would spread that added to my enjoyment.
Cooties does a good job of dehumanizing the kids even before they get infected. One character, Patriot (yes that’s the character’s name) is a bully and you don’t feel bad when he gets bit. There is a bunch of little things in the movie I enjoyed. When Clint is starting to teach all the kids pop their Ritalin or Adderall. Nothing is said, they just all pop their pills. This scene sets up another scenario in the movie. It was a clever way for the future scene to be more believable. The gore was another plus. The teachers getting torn apart was well done, and the special effects were top notch. I would have enjoyed just a bit more gore though. I wanted more over the top scenes to really drive home some horror elements, since the comedy fell flat at times.
The movie is funny, but some of the jokes just didn’t work. The vice principle for example had some funny lines, but he seemed to rush through them, and the timing was off. There were a few instances of this. The comedy that did work was based on the traits of the characters in the movie. Clint is an Apple guy who writes a blog (dammit, don’t think of me I’m not an Apple guy). He lives in his Mom’s attic and is writing a book. Elijah does a great job of playing on this trope. The character who stole the movie was Doug the science teacher. Leigh Whannell was fantastic as the possible sociopathic teacher. I found every scene he was in enjoyable. He provided an awkward tension with the rest of the characters. He is also the teacher who figures out what is going on. These exposition scenes are great. This allowed the audience a fun way to receive information about what is going on. Yes it is a bit unbelievable, but in the context of the movie I felt it worked.
The rest of the cast is great. Elijah Wood is fantastic as Clint, and Allison Pill is good as the love interest in the movie. I wanted more of Nasim Pedrad as Rebekkah, who played an over the top right wing conservative. She didn’t have many scenes in the movie, but I laughed when she got a chance to step in. The only person I didn’t fully enjoy was Rainn Wilson as Wade. Not sure why, but I just didn’t believe him as the over the top former high school sports star and gym coach. He had his moments, but in the end I just didn’t care for his character, nor how they used him.
The ending is the only other weak point of the movie. Up until the last ten to fifteen minutes I was loving the movie and everything they had done. The ending was too unbelievable for what they had set up during the course of the film. If it wasn’t for the ending I would say this movie was a must buy for me. It is still worth watching and really enjoyable. The ending however was neither funny nor terrifying. The film should have went another way, and it would have provided a more satisfying conclusion.
I don’t want to end on a negative note about the movie. I enjoyed it too much for that. If you want to watch a fun horror/comedy I would suggest Cooties. Don’t expect an instant classic like Zombieland, but it is still worth watching and enjoying. Go see it in the movie theater or rent it on video on demand.
My Rating: Rentable
Top Five Horror/Comedies:
1. Ghostbusters (not much horror, but I was terrified as a kid)
2. Shaun of the Dead
3. Army of Darkness
Let me know your favorite horror comiedes and if you saw Cooties what you thought.