Cooties (2014) | 31 Days of Horror: Oct 9

by Jovial Jay

Circle circle dot dot, now you’ve had a cootie shot. It is safe for you to proceed.

It gets a little difficult to come up with new ideas for horror films that haven’t been tried. So creating a tale where elementary students become zombies and terrorize teachers seems like one that could encourage new creativity.

Before Viewing

Ah, elementary school where the students are little bloodsuckers. In this film, quite literally. The trailer makes it seem that infected chicken nuggets have infected the students turning them into zombies and the teachers must find some way to escape from the school. It has some big stars, like Elijah Wood and Rainn Wilson, and is written by people that worked on Glee and Saw – what a crazy mash-up. It seems like a pretty funny take on the zombie film, which we’ll see after recess!

Presented below is the trailer for the film.

Spoiler Warning - Halloween


Cooties title card.

After Viewing

Cooties is a pretty simplistic film. In the aptly named Fort Chicken, Illinois, a batch of tainted chicken nuggets infects a girl at an elementary school. Soon she begins biting and scratching other children infecting them as well. The infection sets in quickly giving many teachers no chance for safety.

Six teachers manage to avoid the initial outbreak. These include Wade (Rainn Wilson), the Phys Ed teacher oblivious to the outbreak at recess, Clint (Elijah Wood), a substitute that has moved back home from New York City to complete his first novel, Lucy (Allison Pill), Wade’s girlfriend and Clint’s crush, Tracy (Jack McBrayer), who is prone to hysterics, Rebekkah (Nasim Pedrad), a teacher that would rather teach creationism over evolution, and Doug (Leigh Whannell), a socially awkward and possibly deranged teacher. Additionally, crossing guard Rick (Jorge Garcia) manages to sit out the initial waves getting stoned in his van on psychedelic mushrooms. Mr. Hitachi (Peter Kwong), the janitor, avoids the kids in his dungeon-like office. The teachers also take care of two unaffected children Calvin (Armani Jackson) and Tamra (Morgan Lily).


Happy Poultry is anything but! What? Chicken butts.

The teachers and the two students are unaffected by the scratches they receive due to the fact that they have all passed puberty. Doug hypothesizes that the hormonal changes of puberty render the infection as a minor stomach-flu. The teachers gather weapons and plan to storm out of the building, but first need Clint and Lucy need to get some food for Calvin who is moving into a diabetic coma. After many brief encounters with the zombified children, the teachers make it to Wade’s truck (a dual rear-wheel behemoth), but Wade falls to the hordes of kids.

The group makes it to nearby Danville (thank God it’s not Fort Chicken!), but runs out of gas. They see news reports on TV that large portions of the population are becoming infected and attacked. Another group of children chase them into an indoor playground called Jump N Jammin, where they are surrounded by hungry youngsters. Suddenly Wade bursts in, having survived the attacks in the playground (probably due to his football skills) and proceeds to spray the kids with a super-soaker filled with gasoline. The burn the place to the ground, and depart in Rick’s van for “someplace children don’t want to go.”

You can’t eat the teachers, man!” – Wade

While the premise of Cooties makes for a fun idea, and getting the creators of Glee and Saw to collaborate on the story is an interesting mash-up, the film is really a one-note sort of movie. As a zombie film, it’s got some legs, creating zombies out of kids. But the only people that can become zombies are the kids, adults need not worry about the infection. What the adults have to worry about is being overrun by kids and torn apart. And really, how hard is that?

One of the seemingly hardest things for modern-day horror films to do is to disconnect the characters from society, so that they don’t have access to information, or communications, or other support systems. Cooties sets up a cell-phone free school, where all the phones get locked in the Principal’s office. Then later, one of the zombie kids smashes them all, for no apparent reason. The characters all spend much time not doing anything. The story calls for them to have some time for discussions, but really it just plays on the stereotypes of teachers, without really getting into anything real.


Wade is oblivious to the carnage behind him!

The film is interesting and has some definite funny moments, but it’s not really a great film to re-watch. Unlike other horror comedies like Grabbers or Shaun of The Dead, there’s not much else going on in the film, so once you’ve seen it, that’s all there is. And while it’s interesting seeing all these comedic actors work together, that’s just not enough to sustain a 90 minute film.


The teachers look on in horror as the children tear apart colleagues on the playground.

Assorted Musings

  • Ian Brennon, the creator and writer for Glee plays Vice Principal Simms, one of the early victims of the zombies.
  • Leigh Whannell is a writer and actor from the Saw franchise. He also has worked with Saw director James Wan on the Insidious film series.
  • Elijah Wood is of course best known for his role as Frodo in the Lord of the Rings trilogy directed by one-time horror director Peter Jackson.
  • Rainn Willson, mainly known for his comedy roles and playing Dwight on The Office, had a small role in the Rob Zombie film House of 1000 Corpses.
  • Allison Pill had a role in Season 7 of American Horror Story.
  • Jack McBrayer is best known for his comedy roles including 30 Rock, and the voice of Fix-It Felix in Wreck-It Ralph.
  • Nasim Pedrad is probably best known for her 9 years on Saturday Night Live.
  • Jorge Garcia is best known for his roles on Lost and the remake of Hawaii Five-O.

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