Movie Name: “Cooties”
Release Date: 18th of September 2015
Release: DVD Blu-Ray
Horror Subgenre: Zombie Horror/Comedy
A mysterious virus hits an isolated elementary school, transforming the kids into a feral swarm of mass savages. An unlikely hero must lead a motley band of teachers in the fight of their lives.
Horror comedies are guilty pleasures for any horror enthusiasts, although some may admit it most that others. In the Horror Comedy sub-genre there is none more entertaining than zombie themed comedies. The tonality of a pandemic threatening mankind’s very existence is a grim scenario to digest. Couple the notion with rabid flesh hungry corpses and the parameters become even more dire. There’s a sense of relief in zombie themed comedies, a freedom to explore our innermost fears in a relaxing atmosphere.
“Cooties” directed by Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott, written by Ian Brennan and Leigh Whannell is the latest entry to the zombie / horror comedy sub-genre. “Cooties” borrows the classic foundations of the zombie horror genre and presents it in a quirky, humorous and exhilarating medium.
“Cooties” film analysis
“Cooties” offers the basis of the story-line during the opening credits, but also provides eye-opening insight to danger in our mass food production industry. The sequence itself is masterfully constructed, offering humor on an otherwise serious topic. Immediately thereafter, the audience is trusted into the life of protagonist, Clint Hadson portrayed by Elijah Wood, a young aspiring novelist who returns to his hometown of Ft. Chicken from New York City. During Clint Hadson’s first day of employment at the local elementary school he becomes antiquated with colleagues; childhood friend (and girl of his dreams) Lucy McCormick, portrayed by Alison Pill, Lucy’s boyfriend,Wade Johnson portrayed by Rainn Wilson, and Doug portrayed by Leigh Whannell.
Most zombie films present the cast on a surface level, enough information provided to be familiar with but not enough to adhere to the characters involved. “Cooties” is no exception to this unwritten rule of the genre. Each of the characters in the film “Cooties” are comically portrayed but nevertheless are cliched dispositions. The execution of character development can be overlooked solely because of the comedic nature of the film.
The viral outbreak immediately takes precedence, an infection spreads among the elementary school students during recess. This is where the montage presented at the opening credits becomes fundamentally key. Scenes of carnage are predominantly on display as the virus spreads and the body count escalates. One by one the unsuspecting staff are ravaged in gory fashion by the rabid children.
“Cooties” evolves into the film it is meant to be soon thereafter. A spotlight is placed on the unbalanced relationship and unorthodox teamwork of a rag-tag group of survivors during a time of crisis.
One major gripe is the poor portrayal of the “minorities” in the film, “Cooties”. It seems as though the only reason a Latino, African American and Asian were present in the film, “Cooties” was for the sake of racial diversity. There is one subtle hint of racism, a play of words crafted as a joke. The scene in question occurs as the Caucasian dominant group of survivors find shelter from the infected children. They stumble in the school library and are startled with the presence of Calvin, portrayed by child actor Armani Jackson. Survivor/teacher Rebekkah played by Nasim Pedrad believing Calvin to be one of the infected says:
Kill it I hate it kill it!
Another member of the teacher/survivor team, Tracy portrayed by Jack McBrayer interjects by telling Calvin:
He’s not like the others and I’m not just saying that because you’re the only Black student in this school. Our differences is what makes life beautiful.
Additionally, Jorge Garcia’s character Rick is portrayed as a recreational drug user / slacker Latino. Rick spends the entirety of the film locked away in the safety of his vehicle, high on narcotics. The Janitor, Mr. Hitachi played by Peter Kwong is presented in act three of the film “Cooties”. The stereotypical portrayal of Mr Hitachi couldn’t have been bluntly expressed, a philosophical karate/swordsman.
The practical effects were amazing, the episodes of on screen gore was artistically crafted. Dismembered limbs, decapitations, various stages of infection were phenomenally sculpted .There’s also an homage to an all too popular death scene from George Romero’s 1985 zombie classic “Day of The Dead”. For those unfamiliar with the scene in question, it’s the disembowelment of the character Major Rhodes by a horde of zombies. Despite its comedic nature, “Cooties” is not a film intended for children.
“Cooties” features a constant frantic pace that is very entertaining. The jokes vary between hits and misses, but when comedy is delivered properly it garners laughter instead of moderate chuckles.