Whenever I have an afternoon NOT in the office, I usually like to get caught up on movies I’ve been meaning to see. And usually, those are horror movies. And even though I’ve had the pleasure to produce an interview with Elijah Wood and Rainn Wilson ABOUT their 2014 film, “Cooties,” I never had a chance to see it. Until just the other day.
“Cooties” is a horror/comedy in the vein of “Shaun of the Dead,” (it even has zombies!) where it is just as funny as it is scary. And while it’s no where near as good as Simon Pegg’s film (but what is?), “Cooties” is in a weird place where it’s better than most, but not good enough to be great.
But we’ll get back to that, momentarily.
The film begins with an extremely graphic sequence showing how chicken nuggets are made — only these chicken nuggets have been infected. With what? Zombie-making sauce or something. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the chicken nuggets are made and shipped out — and one batch ends up in the cafeteria of an elementary school, right where Elijah Wood’s character, Clint, has just started a substitute teaching gig.
Clint is an aspiring writer, having spent time in New York, but is now living in his old room at his mom’s house, and teaching at the same school he went to as a young boy — where he runs into Lucy (Alison Pill), a friend he had growing up. Alison is currently dating the P.E. teacher, played by mustached-and-full-on-jerk-mode Rainn Wilson. Of course, this leads to a love triangle — and plays out kinda how you think it will. Also in the cast is Jack McBrayer, Nasim Pedrad, Jorge Garcia, and Mark Christopher Lawrence in too small a role.
One of the best things “Cooties” does is making the virus NOT spread to anyone who has been through puberty. This means our adult characters can get scratched, bitten, and as long as they’re still alive, they’ll stay that way. This cuts out a big part of the usual zombie movie plot dealing with someone who has been bitten, but hides it, then turns at the MOST inopportune time, which is a nice, refreshing, and welcome change.
END MILD SPOILERS.
At times, though, it does feel as if the film is trying a tad too hard. There ARE forced one-liners the filmmakers KNOW are cheesy, but are doing it anyways in hopes it’ll become cool and quotable – and of COURSE there are Hobbit references towards Elijah Wood. However, these moments don’t stop the film, entirely, and come from such a seemingly-honest place, it’s almost endearing.
So, yeah. “Cooties” is pretty good. It’s not reinventing the wheel, but if you like “Shaun of the Dead,” “Tucker and Dale vs Evil,” and “Cabin in the Woods,” you’ll probably find this entertaining at the least. I plan on showing this to people who haven’t seen it – which is, in itself, quite a compliment. Can you really have higher praise than wanting to spread the word?
Solid B Flick