The last few films that I’ve seen starring Elijah Wood have been some of the most original genre films I’ve witnessed in a very long time. Needless to say, when his project about a virus outbreak at an elementary school was announced, I was more excited than words can describe. When I started spotting initial reviews of the film, however, the opinions didn’t seem to coincide with what I had come to expect. I heard some pretty negative things, but seeing as how I never really base my decisions on what others feel or say, I decided I still had to give this one a fair shot. Boy, am I glad I did because Cooties ended up being a lot more fun than everyone else was saying!
Clint (Elijah Wood, The Good Son, Open Windows) is a [struggling] writer who has returned to his home town of Fort Chicken for a summer gig as a substitute teacher. The first day proves to be an interesting one as an infectious virus turns all of the students into a horde of flesh-fiending maniacs. Clint must band together with the rest of the oddball teachers to get out of the building in one piece.
Cooties stars an unlikely cast for a traditional horror film, but then again, there isn’t necessarily anything ‘traditional’ about this one. Rainn Wilson (The Office), Jack McBrayer (30 Rock), and Nasim Pedrad (Saturday Night Live) are all known for their comedic prowess, so to see them billed in a film about a virus outbreak is definitely going to throw some people off. Luckily, it works out perfectly for everyone, as this film, co-directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, is funny and frightening all at the same time. Throw the ever-evolving Elijah Wood and a writer who has quickly become my favorite, Leigh Whannell, into the mix and you have yourself the perfect cast for a humorous and terrifying tale.
Rainn Wilson and Leigh Whannell were two of my favorites throughout the film, portraying phys ed teacher, Wade, and socially [and not so socially] awkward multi-subject teacher, Doug, respectively. Going in, I already assumed I would get some laughs from Wilson, but I had no idea how much I would enjoy Whannell’s humor. The type of comedy that oozes from the Cooties script, which happens to also be written by Leigh Whannell, along with Glee writer, Ian Brennan, is dry and that of irony. The characters are all so quirky that it brings a wonderful variety to the table, and while the comedic parts may not resonate with every viewer, I still found myself chuckling out loud quite often.
There is plenty of perfectly placed comedy sprinkled throughout Cooties, but it still takes itself seriously enough to be classified as a real horror film, which is also a sentiment that was not felt by fellow horror critics. I don’t get it… there are some pretty gruesome scenes here, including an awesome shot of one of the main antagonist flesh-eating children’s almost jawless face, after being thrown from the roof of a moving vehicle and hurled dozens of yards. The effects, both practical and CG, on display here were both impressive and effective. In fact, I loved the look and feel of the entire film, thanks to the awesome work by the over 30 amazing men and women who comprise the art and make-up team.
Cooties really turned out to be a great time and I’m happy I gave it the shot it rightfully deserved, even after hearing some not-so-positive reviews. Even the end of the film, in addition to the alternate ending, which can be seen when viewing the special features of the official home release, is amazing and leaves things open for a possible sequel. I would personally love to see another film in a potential franchise of this, but I won’t hold my breath, as I’m not sure anything like that is even being pondered.
If you, like myself, are a fan of Elijah Wood’s darker films, and enjoy the writing of horror maestro, Leigh Whannell, mixed with the comedic genius of the likes of Rainn Wilson and Jack McBrayer, you will not be disappointed with Cooties. Available now, you can purchase the film on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.
This fun little horror gets an official Repulsive Rating of 4.5 oozing chicken nuggets out of 5 from yours truly.