For anyone who has ever called a kid of a certain age a monster, I give you Cooties—not literally, of course; it’s a made-up disease young boys think girls will give them and vice versa, and I’m a grown-up… I think. No, I’m talking about the fun and perfectly gross little horror comedy starring Elijah Wood and Rainn Wilson in which a slew of fourth-graders actually turn into, well, monsters.
Conjured up by Ian Brennan and Insidious screenwriter Leigh Whannell, it imagines Wood as a wannabe horror novelist living in his mom’s house in Ft. Chicken (!) who substitutes at his former elementary school during summer session. A fourth grade girl there eats an infected chicken nugget, turns into a flesh-eating savage, and the rest of the students soon follow suit.
Most of the admittedly sick and twisted fun here comes from watching Wood and his fellow trapped teachers battle the horde of infected pre-tweens. So if you abhor even the idea of children being bashed in the head with baseballs or smashed against a tree or viciously eating people or skipping rope with human entrails, then this movie ain’t for you.
If it is for you, then you’ll probably laugh at the sight of kids fighting over a severed arm, or a girl’s pigtail being pulled right off her head. You’ll also hopefully be amused by the teachers themselves, among them Wilson as the comically macho PE teacher, Alison Pill as Wood’s aggressively positive former high school crush, and Whannell himself as the definitely off-kilter science teacher.
Wood makes a perfect loser-who-finds-his-courage hero, his doe eyes and quiet demeanor masking a somewhat childish attitude. He proves a good sport, too, allowing Whannell and Brennan (hilarious in a brief part as the vice principal) to make fun of his height. And he has a great reaction to Nasim Pedrad’s riotous don’t-come-near-me-I-have-a-whistle rant.
Besides bringing the funny—especially in the third act as the teachers take on the infected kids with hockey sticks and cymbals and such—co-directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion craft some nicely scary moments, including a superbly tense scene involving Wood and Pill, a ventilation system and an infected girl on a tricycle. I never want to see another tricycle—ever again. – [DVD]
DVD Release Date: 12/1/15