Nov 20, 2015

[Movies] Cooties (2014)

The b-movie genre has sort of evolved into the horror comedy over the years, I feel. I distinguish the two as b-movies trying to be serious but not having the budget to do so while horror comedies aim to be funny but use horror elements and even b-movie elements to convey that on-screen. Sometimes it can be funny and other times it just gets a little awkward. The sort of campiness that is achieved naturally by those older movies.

Cooties feels like one of those movies - a horror comedy that clearly makes reference to the joys of old school zombie movies with all the crazy gore and fake blood. But at the same time it's quite the comedic effort with a good number of one-liners thrown in for good measure.

It is interesting how Elijah Wood has been taking his career in recent years. Getting involved in projects as big as LOTR can really limit you and I feel like his choices in terms of projects have been all about having fun while demonstrating range. And he certainly has a knack for being the straight man in comedic routines.

Synopsis: Cooties is a 2014 American comedy movie directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion with a screenplay by Leigh Whannell and Ian Brennan. The movie originally debuted at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

In the chicken-obsessed town of Ft. Chicken, Illinois, we are show the elaborate process of how chicken nuggets are made with the implication that something has contaminated a particular batch. And fourth grade student Shelly Linker (Sunny May Allison) is the unlucky child who eats one of these contaminated chicken nuggets But as that festers, we first need to talk about Clint Hadson (Elijah Wood), a novice writer who has returned home to Ft. Chicken and is working as a substitute teacher. There he finds that his high school crush, Lucy McCormick (Allison Pill) also teaches at the school, although she is already involved with the PE teacher, Wade Johnson (Rainn Wilson).

Things start to shift when a rather silent Shelly surprisingly attacks her classmate, Patriot (Cooper Roth) after he accidentally tears of one of her pigtails entirely - scalp included. She manages to bite him on the face but beyond that it seems he suffers no other symptoms. She manages to escape capture and goes on to infect others. Soon, the teachers find themselves under attack by seemingly feral children who behave like zombies. We are left with a small band of teachers trapped in the school with no means to call for help left to figure out how to survive.

What is most striking about the movie is first is just how gory it is despite the fact that our primary zombie-like creatures are children. And we're talking classic 80's campy horror movies where the turned children get to rip open flesh and pull out innards and organs to consume. We have blood that is ridiculously red, thus adding a sometimes comedic element as it all comes gushing out as teachers are torn limb from limb. And it's all quite glorious when you get down to it and just enjoy the silly violence of it all.

Elijah Wood really has the awkward hero role down to a science or something. Sure there are little twists here and there but the core character remains the same. And I'll admit he can be quite adorable in the thick of things while playing such roles. The story doesn't exactly support truly great dramatic moments and the like, but his time on-screen is never unpleasant.

Rainn Wilson seemed a little underplayed in this movie, but that may not be a bad thing. They did try to give him some fun one-liners primarily designed as insults, but on the whole it was quite fun. I think script made better use of of the teacher Doug (Leigh Whannell), who totally plays the socially awkward character who happens to have a diverse range of specialized skills. But hey, I guess writers like to indulge in roles they wrote themselves.

The story as a whole isn't too complex and it runs through the classic pattern of most horror movies. I wasn't quite sure how they intended to end things at first since the initial goal seemed to be to escape the school even though other zombie kids had managed to get out into the town at large. But it all sort of worked out in the end.

Cooties is nothing amazing, but it is funny in a campy horror sense. The writing is a little dry but at least the gore is delightfully bloody and it all works out for the best. The movie gets 3 zombie children out of a possible 5.


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