Cooties – 4 out of 5
The zombie genre is one that is not only very popular right now (I’m a huge fan) but it’s also a genre that is very difficult to be unique in. The market is overwhelmed with carbon copied zombie apocalypse films that all have basically the same feel but with varying degrees of how well the gore effects are and the quality of actors and writers they get to write said characters. As great as I find The Walking Dead, it could easily become one of the many terrible zombie films that Syfy likes to show if they didn’t have great characters and actors, Greg Nicotero’s team making the blood and guts and a clan of amazingly talented writers crafting the weekly adventures and troubles. Occasionally, a zombie film comes along that looks familiar enough to belong with all the other zombie films but separatesitself enough that it is doing something fresh and new. Cooties attempts that with zombified children.
***Disclaimer: This review may contain some mild spoilers***
|Can't Wood just tame the zombies with his piercing and icy-blue eyes?|
|At this particular point, it's unclear if they are actually|
zombie kids or just normal ones. Each of them want
to take your life away from you in some way...
After a rancid chicken nugget makes its way to an elementary school in the middle of Illinois, a virus spreads through the children that leaves them walking monsters looking to eat the flesh of the living. Substitute teacher and aspiring writer Clint (Elijah Wood) must team with the rest of the faculty to try and survive this zombie virus that seems to only affect anyone who hasn’t hit puberty yet. Alongside the macho gym teacher Wade (Rainn Wilson), the peppy and former classmate of Clint’s Lucy (Alison Pill), the uptight Rebekkah (Nasim Pedrad), the timid Tracy (Jack McBrayer) and the socially awkward and all around strange but brilliant Doug (Leigh Whannell), they have to figure out how to get help and make it out alive.
|If you don't calm down right now I'm going to back this car up right into your face,|
Cooties, in my opinion, is an extremely fun zombie dark comedy/horror film. It comes out of the gate running and sets up the chaos very fast without sacrificing establishing who the characters are and what they mean to the story. This fast pace has gory and borderline offensive comedy coming at you at a feverish frequency and it makes the first half of the film very fun. Granted, the film does start to slow down and lose a bit of the fun it was having but, in the end, it didn’t ruin the overall enjoyment I was having.
|Wait a second...how did he get out of Jigsaw's prison that was that|
disgusting bathroom he shared with the Dread Pirate Roberts?
The cast of this film are all doing an exceptional job with their characters and making them both entertaining and all capable of being funny. Rainn Wilson is clearly the standout in both performance and his character just being stupidly funny. However, that isn’t to say there isn’t moments from the rest of the cast. For example, co-writer of the film and the man playing Doug; Leigh Whannell, has some truly hysterical moments when he is first introduced and is trying to ingrain himself into the conversation between Clint, Wade and Lucy and there’s a fantastic scene where he figures out what exactly is attacking the children and Whannell is just playing this role perfectly. I would have like to see more than just a moment or two where Jack McBrayer is adding to the laughs because he is such a funny man but the scenes he does get to shine in he gets to shine brightly for.
|Why would you waste McBrayer?!? He's a National Treasure!|
The only section of the cast and the characters that I felt the film didn’t succeed in was with Jorge Garcia as a drug dealing crossing guard for the school. While his character ends up playing a mildly important role towards the end, the majority of the time he felt overwhelming unnecessary and his gags about being high on mushrooms while he watched the children take over the playground and eat any adult that came their way felt weak and did little to move the story forward or add to the laugh count. This is a bit of a shame because Garcia has proven in the past that he can bring a lot to a project and to a character but, in this case, he felt like he just didn’t belong.
|Maybe it's just me but I just don't find Hurley from Lost mugging while in a stoned|
stupor over zombie kids to be funny. I'm just picky that way. If it was Locke mugging...
that would have been a different story.
The only other time the film faltered for me was the moment the film takes the story from being centered on the school to a much larger scale. At this point, the film no longer feels like an intimate horror/comedy and starts to feel like it is prematurely entering into its own sequel—it literally feels like a second film is started and it began to slow the story down and make the running time start to feel a little longer. In theory, this change in the Third Act could have come off like a natural development but, at this point, the entire main cast is still alive and the film boldly refuses to do the usual zombie trope and have one of the members of the surviving group bite the dust. In this sense, the natural story markers that are normally seen in a zombie film are completely absent and it starts to make the film seem longer. It’s a bold choice to refuse to kill off any members of the core group and I applaud that Cooties went this route and actively decided to give the middle finger to a zombie trope but it makes the story feel a tad awkward and slow down the momentum it had built up so well in the beginning.
|Rainn Wilson was so badass in this film.|
Finally, I have to applaud Cooties for being as ballsy as it is. Having children be the film’s antagonists and monsters are nothing new to the horror genre (kids are creepy as fuck, people) but this film takes a step closer to the line and isn’t afraid to show violence happening to kids, having kids commit violence to adults and have adults brutally murder zombified children. This will no doubt alienate more sensitive viewers but dark comedies have always proven to be an acquired taste and have always been geared to people who have a more unique sense of humor. To put it another way, you have to be a little morbid or downright fucked up to find this kind of stuff funny and I’m that type of individual. Dark comedies are my bag, baby, and this one definitely had me rolling.
|Look, in a real zombie apocalypse we're going to get kid zombies so|
you can't discriminate or hesitate when you need to bash their
dead brains in.
|Kids are just walking disease factories. We all knew|
this would happen eventually.
Cooties isn’t for everyone and this isn’t probably going to score well with mainstream audiences or critics. Granted, the film does falter at points and suffers from having a low body count with the established characters but this actually becomes a gag in the film at several points so even though it may dip with this point it is self-aware enough to make fun of itself for this. I also may not have enjoyed the seemingly pointless nature of Jorge Garcia’s character and felt the film slows down too greatly as it comes into its Third Act but the film is still darkly hilarious and different enough from every other zombie feature that it stands out and it stands out extremely well.