Cooties review: Yuck daddy

Chad White

Loves: Horror, Comedy, Horror-Comedy
Likes: Most of the cast
Dislikes: Kids, the rest of the cast
Hates: Tropes

Oh look, carnage!

Horror-Comedy is a very tricky genre to work in. Starz’s Ash Vs Evil Dead is an example of how it can be done right as a show; Krampus is an example of true horror with slaps of comedy; and Bad Milo is a good symbol of “it’s bad but I like this.” What most of these movies in the genre have in common is the inability to accept that any of this is truly real. There’s always a fantastical element. For Krampus, seeing the monster terrorize the family is what made the movie lose its scary aesthetic and merge into something much more interesting. Cooties, like its contemporaries, hits the viewers on a trophic level but is eager to get the fun started.

The action occurs at a local school where everyone works. A contaminated chicken nugget leads to an outbreak of a virus of sorts. The kids begin attacking their teachers for blood. Elijah Wood plays Clint, a struggling writer living at home with his mother and working as a substitute teacher. He finds out that his school crush, Lucy (Alison Pill), works at the same school. She’s dating the douchey gym teacher Wade (Rainn Wilson). Other school figures include social justice warrior Rebekkah (Nasim Pedrad), the probably gay Tracy (Jack McBrayer), drugee crossguard Rick (Jorge Garcia), and weirdo science teacher Doug (Leigh Whannell). The most important thing about these characters are not their names though. The descriptors given along with them are exact representations as to how these characters are portrayed. Woods’ Clint brings up his in progress novel in almost every scene even though he can’t bring himself to concretely write it. Wilson’s Wade is the jockey type with references to a failed football afterlife. In short, every single one of these people is flawed and they are nothing more than their one, singular hobby.

This all plays into the plot points of the movie. Each character seems to have a role in the grand scheme of the story. On some levels it works as the teachers move from classroom to classroom trying to figure out how to escape the school. Eventually, one of the characters catches the sickness but now the others are able to examine its effects. There’s a good amount of surface level story sidestepping as the writers find a way to circumvent tedious retreading. But then there’s the stuff that they do hit on. Of course the two lovebirds are going to fall in love; Pill and Woods’ characters gave that part away from minute one of interaction. Sure, the school bully is the de facto zombie leader. Though, it is interesting to see the zombie kids learn and adapt instead of scuttle along. And the action sequences are well done for an indie horror-comedy.

Should you watch Cooties?

There may be bias in this review from extensive viewing and subsequent enjoyment of the genre. While it’s not as deep as, say, The Final Girls, nor does it take a different approach a la Tucker and Dale vs Evil, it does stand on its own. The stereotypical character portrayals are a disappointment but the cast does a good enough job to make the world enjoyable.