Just when you think you have seen it all, somebody comes along and throws a curve ball in a particular genre and completely changes things. I know that is not the first time I have said that, but especially in recent years, it seems several people are playing with the zombie genre and seeing what they can do to make it special. After all, there is only so much you can do with slow-moving (sometimes fast-moving) undead people who feast on live people. I never would have guessed that I would see a movie that resembles anything like "Warm Bodies," a movie I liked much more than I would have thought, but there it is, our first zombie love story. I think several artists are beginning to show just how much longevity this sub genre has, and with the right force, it can be wildly creative.
"Cooties" is a horror comedy about zombies. Yes, that sounds like a faint praise, but honestly its anything but. It takes the zombie story in a completely different direction than we are used to. It is also a movie that plays up its sense of humor. There is plenty of fun to be had with "Cooties" and there were several moments when I laughed out loud. So, what is the new direction? Well, the film opens with a horrifically brutal look at the way chicken nuggets are made. We see an unnamed farmer kill a chicken and get it ready for processing, then we witness the disgusting creation of chicken nuggets ready to be shipped to schools. The thing is, something is off about one particular nugget, its read and gooey, not even close to being appetizing. We see the small hand of a little girl pick this nugget up and eat it.
We then meet Clint (Elijah Wood), a substitute teacher at an elementary school. He's having a particularly hard first day of substitute teaching, and that's before all the young children become infected with a virus that forces them to eat people. Clint along with several other teachers barricade themselves in the school, while trying to formulate a plan of survival. I liked how the movie played up why kids can be so creepy in horror movies, and while the movie is a comedy, eerie child laughter is something that creeps me out, and there was several moments of that type of laughter throughout the movie.
The acting is good across the board, and there are several good actors involved in this. Elijah Wood is good and has some great comedic timing. Rainn Wilson, who seems to have been missing from comedy for a couple years now, playing the tough-as-nails gym teacher. Wilson is superb in this, and I particularly loved the moment between Wilson and Wood where they talk about hobbits and orcs, I was in stitches. Allison Pill of "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" makes a good appearance here as does Jack McBrayer and Jorge Garcia. This is a funny group of actors, and they make this material better than it needed to be.
As with most zombie stories, there is plenty of blood and guts. There are some wacky one-liners and even wackier situations. But what won me over was the utter confidence on display. This was something that was much better than it needed to be and vastly more fun than it needed to be. If this is the future of zombie movies ,then I will be completely on board and I love that something like this exists alongside something like "The Walking Dead." I would take something like this over the crappy found footage movies any day.
FINAL GRADE: B+