Wednesday, August 31, 2022

#2,808. Cooties (2014) - Infection Triple Feature


A word of warning: Cooties is a violent movie. What’s more, much of its violence is inflicted upon children. Kids are beaten, bitten, and brutalized throughout the film, with some toddlers suffering injuries so severe they’re sure to make you cringe.

And believe me… you will smile every time one of these nasty little bastards bleeds!

Written by Leigh Whannell (Saw) and Ian Brennan (the television musical Glee) and co-directed by Jonathan Millot and Cary Murnion, Cooties stars Elijah Wood as Clint Hadson, a wannabe horror novelist. To make ends meet until his book is published, Clint takes a job as a substitute summer school teacher in his hometown of Fort Chicken, Illinois. His first day, he reunites with former classmate Lucy (Alison Pill), also a teacher, and meets co-workers Wade (Rainn Wilson), Tracy (Jack McBrayer), Doug (Leigh Whannell), Rebekkah (Nasim Pedrad), and Vice Principle Simms (Ian Brennan).

Unfortunately for Clint and the other teachers at Fort Chicken Elementary, their Monday afternoon is about to get… strange.

It all starts when fourth grader Shelly Linker (Sunny May Allison) eats a tainted chicken nugget, which contains a virus that turns ordinary kids into cannibalistic psychos. The virus spreads like wildfire throughout the school, trapping Clint and the others inside. Now, this ragtag group of educators has no choice but to work together to avoid being eaten by their students.

Cooties is a horror / comedy that delivers plenty of both. The over-the-top characters are always good for a laugh, with dialogue that will have you in stitches (It’s Doug who first notices something odd is going on in the playground, and alerts his fellow teachers with the matter-of-fact line “Oh, look! Carnage!”). Especially good are Rainn Wilson as macho gym teacher Wade and co-writer Whannell, whose Doug is both the smartest (he’s the one who figures out how the virus spreads, and why it only affects kids) and weirdest of the group (when we first meet Doug, he’s reading a book titled How to Have a Normal Conversation).

That said, the film’s absolute funniest moment comes courtesy of star Elijah Wood, when his Clint introduces himself to the class by writing his name on the chalkboard!

When it comes to the horror, it’s the kids’ turn to shine. Particularly menacing is Patriot (Cooper Roth), a foul-mouthed wiseass who, before transforming into a flesh-craving maniac, planned to join the marines on his eighteenth birthday. Roth does a fine job turning Patriot into Cooties’ most unlikable character, and the rest of the young cast, hidden behind some pretty gnarly make-up, bring a childlike innocence to the carnage they unleash, using eyeballs as marbles and skipping rope with one poor victim’s innards.

Which brings us to the blood and gore, which Cooties has in abundance. From something as simple as a bite on the cheek to the more complex devouring of a teacher, the gore effects throughout Cooties impressed the hell out of me, and took the horror to a completely new level.

Toss in a few genuinely tense moments (including one with a little girl on a tricycle) and a handful of effective jump scares, and you have a horror / comedy that doesn’t sacrifice one in favor of the other. Cooties had me laughing and jumping at the same time.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

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