COOTIES review


Film Pulse Score

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Release Date: September 18, 2015 (Limited and VOD)
Directors: Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion
MPAA Rating: R
Run Time: 88 Minutes

What would happen if the disgusting, processed chicken nuggets served in school lunches harbored a deadly virus?  Well, according to Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion’s horror/comedy Cooties, the children would turn into ravenous flesh hungry monsters.

Written by Leigh Whannell of Saw and Insidious fame, and Ian Brennan, head writer of Glee, Cooties is a nastily funny horror flick that provides equal parts shocks and laughs.  The irreverent humor mixed with gratuitous blood and gore makes it one of the best horror comedies to come out in recent years.

The film stars Elijah Wood as a young writer who hits the wall and ends up moving back in with his mother and landing a substitute teaching gig at his old elementary school.  When he arrives, we’re introduced to the main cast of characters- a broken set of teachers all seemingly on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  Rainn Wilson plays Wade, the quintessential P.E. teacher, Allison Pill plays the overly positive optimist Lucy, Nasim Pedrad plays Rebekkah, a paranoid Christian, Jack McBrayer plays Tracy, the closest homosexual, and Leigh Whannell plays Doug, the brain damaged science teacher.

Of all the characters, Whannell as Doug is the clear standout.  Nearly every odd line that comes from his mouth is comedy gold and I found myself being sad whenever he wasn’t on screen.

A love triangle forms between Wood, Wilson, and Pill’s characters, which sometimes lends itself to some comedic banter, but is overall a lackluster subplot.  Pedrad and McBrayer’s characters feel slightly under utilized, however the stylings of Wilson and Whannell make up for it.

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The film begins with a bang and is absolutely hilarious for the first two acts.  Unfortunately, like many of these films do, the comedy begins to wane, and the story begins to feel generic.  Incredibly well written, but generic.  The climax builds up to a very funny and satisfying ending though, which helps make up for some of its shortcomings.

More than just a simple horror flick, Cooties is also a stark satire of how our current school system is being run.  From the unhealthy student lunches, to all the children being doped up on Ritalin, to the under appreciation of teachers, this is a statement on the tragic disrepair of our education system.  Plus I think it’s also saying the best way to take down a rampaging student is to shoot a baseball into its head.

With a great cast and smart, funny writing, Cooties is certainly one to check out.  If for no other reason, see this film for Leigh Whannell as Doug.  See it for Doug and Rainn Wilson slaughtering droves of prepubescent children.

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