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Review: Cooties is Cliche-Ridden and Dull


“You know what would be cool? A movie about zombie kids! It would be awesome to watch the teachers just whaling on their students. And wouldn’t it be funny if the zombie plague started from tainted chicken nuggets?”

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before—A youngish man comes back to his hometown having sort of failed at whatever it was he left to do. He runs into his old high school flame who is currently dating a dumb-ass lout who treats her poorly. The youngish man and the dumb-ass lout can’t stand each other. Finally, the old flame comes to her senses, dumps the lout and reignites the romance with the youngish man.

Or this one—Trapped in a building by Monster XYZ, the assembled soon-to-be victims use the conveniently all-access, big enough for adults air ducts to escape their prison.

Or this one—A trumped up reason to relieve everyone of their cellphones so they won’t be of use as the heat gets turned up.

Or this one—The gearing up montage.

Or this one—The guy who is completely overwhelmed by Monster XYZ inexplicably escapes without a scratch and arrives to save the day.

Cooties, written by Leigh Whannell (Saw, Insidious) and Ian Brennan (Glee) (both of whom also star in the film), features some of the laziest plotting since the 1980s, which is apt; the film plays out as if the filmmakers intended to create an homage to 80s horror flicks. Sadly neither the humor nor the innovation to the genre needed to make it anything more than a direct-to-video retread are present here; instead, this is a beat-for-beat replica of a hundred movies we’ve seen before.


The plot, just to fill in some of the blanks, features Elijah Wood (Maniac) as a substitute teacher leading his fellow faculty in a battle against the infected tweens. The epidemic begins after one of the students eats a killer nugget (which we see created in graphic detail, beginning with a live chicken), and quickly spreads courtesy of some After School Special-worthy bullying. Allison Pill stars as Wood’s high school sweetie, with Rainn Wilson (House Of 1,000 Corpses), Jack McBrayer (30 Rock), Whannell, and Nasim Pedrad (SNL) as the rest of the put upon educators. Pedrad helpfully keeps the main cast from being 100% white.

Included in the fray are two completely undeveloped non-zombified kid character plot devices (in one instance, the adults risk their lives to get the diabetic kid a candy bar). Then there’s Jorge Garcia (Lost), who present just so the characters can have access to a van.

The worst part about Cooties? It’s boring. The characters spend far too long successfully barricaded away from the killer kids having conversations about nothing, and far too little time actually smashing them in the face.


Director(s): Jonathan MilottCary Murnion
Writer(s): Leigh Whannell, Ian Brennan
Stars: Elijah Wood, Alison Pill, Rainn Wilson
Release: September 18, 2015
Studio/ Production Co: LionsGate SpectreVision
Language: English
Length: 88 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Zombies

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