Blu-ray Review: Cooties

By , Contributor
The new horror-comedy Cooties, co-directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, tips its hand right on the Blu-ray cover. A group of actors, led by stars Elijah Wood and Rainn Wilson, pose in battle-ready stances that look so aggressively "zany," you can already imagine what kind of movie we're about to witness. A toxic chicken nugget turns a young girl into a zombie, who in turn sparks a mini zombie apocalypse at an elementary school. Wood is substitute teacher Clint Hadson (one student misreads Clint's sloppily written name on a chalkboard, resulting in a decent throwaway laugh in a film that runs out of good gags too soon). Wilson is PE teacher Wade Johnson. Along with other faculty members, including Alison Pill as Wade's girlfriend Lucy, they must fight off the infected children.

Perhaps the most memorable sequence in Cooties occurs right at the outset: a disgustingly realistic assembly-line set piece in which we see the rendering of chicken into a gooey paste that is subsequently molded into the "nuggets" so many of us love. It's disturbing enough that you may find yourself thinking twice before eating them again (or serving them to your kids). Interestingly, the screenplay was co-scripted by Leigh Whannell and Ian Brennan; the former wrote several Saw and Insidious films, the latter is the co-creator of TV's Glee. The pairing produces some interesting first act results.

That's not to say Cooties does anything we haven't seen before in any number of horror comedies (Shaun of the Dead is among the films that seems to have provided a bit of tonal influence here). Clint's new age-ish approach to teaching offers scattered chuckles, as does the fact that he's writing a novel with the exact plot of Christine (only substituting a boat for the car)—without even knowing Christine exists. Initially there is some rather astute and slightly daring satire in Cooties' depiction of grade school kids from hell. It's something out of a teacher's nightmare: the dangerously aggressive amplification of the worst traits in unruly, undisciplined kids. But the one-note "let's kill these kids" theme quickly wears thin as the action ramps up and any attempt at social commentary (even on the most superficial level) dries up. 
Cooties BD (301x380).jpg Lionsgate presents Cooties on Blu-ray in a crystal clear, 1080p high definition transfer. The audio is offered in a reasonably immersive DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix. Another excellent technical presentation. Special features tend toward the self-congratulatory, including the boisterous cast and crew commentary track. That spirit carries into the 'making of' featurette, with lots of glad-handing about what novel the filmmakers came up with. There are also deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and a gag reel. "Talking Cooties" is ten minutes of video footage from the audio commentary session.

Cooties starts off moderately fun and had it continued in that vein it might be easier to recommend. As it is, this is one of those "only if there's literally no better option" type of rentals.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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