HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:75
Horror comedies are a rare thing, as it’s usually pretty difficult to balance the blood and gore with the chuckles for the audience. Many have tried, and many have died (sorry, I couldn’t resist), but very few have worked properly. “Cabin in the Woods”, “Shaun of the Dead”, “Scream” etc have managed to do a stellar job, but many can’t seem to get the splatstick nature of the two genres to blend properly. “Cooties’ takes an old idea, the one of cooties, and mashing it into a modern setting with the zombie/infection craze that’s hit us the last few decades. Results are mixed, but there is still some good fun to be had, although mainly in the horror department rather than the comedy world.
You’ve heard teachers say that kids can be little monsters, but what happens if they actually DO become little monsters? For Clint this is going to be one of those days where the kids get a little out of hand. He’s back from New York City, where he’s been teaching the last several years AND trying to write a horror novel. Failing miserably he comes back home to Fort Chicken and beds up at his mom’s house while accepting a substitute teacher’s position at Fort Chicken elementary school. The same school he graduated from over 20 years ago. Things aren’t going the best for poor Clint, but they get even worse as he bumbles around the office, making enemies out of his old childhood crush’s boyfriend (who are both teachers, played by Rainn Wilson of “The Office” and Alison Pil), and having to deal with a class of snotty kids who could care less about their new sub.
While that’s a recipe for a normal bad day, when you throw in a bad batch of chicken nuggets into the cafeteria with a nasty virus that mutates kids into braindead, flesh eating zombies, then it’s a REALLY bad day. Unfortunately today is a REALLY bad day, as one such virus infected chicken nugget gets into the food supply and the kids start spreading the disease like chicken pox. Soon the kids are all turned, leaving the teachers screaming through the halls barricading themselves in with anything they can find to protect themselves. Science teach Doug (co-writer Leigh Whannell) figures out that the disease only affects those who haven’t entered puberty yet, rending the brunt of the virus on the pre-pubescent kids ravaging the halls. Knowing they can’t just stay trapped in the school together, the misfit batch of teachers poor their collective knowledge (which really isn’t much) in order to break out and save the rest of Fort Chicken if they can.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=60034[/img]As I said. It’s sometimes a bit hard to pull off a horror/comedy due to the starkly contrasting nature of the two genres being spliced together. “Cooties” does a wicked job at the horror side of the picture, with guts, gore and blood galore. You see kids getting their faces ripped off, spiked into a tree, teachers being eaten alive, children playing jump rope with intestines and dodge ball with severed heads. Blood flows from every orifice and they aren’t shy about showing it either. However, they went a bit overboard on the comedy aspect of the movie. The teachers are all dolts, and while that can be funny in small doses, they really went completely absurdly slapstick for half of the movie. Rainn Wilson plays a more macho version of his role from the office, and the rest of the cast are walking talking clichés, parodies of clichés. Comedy in a horror movie is hard to get right, as the wink winks, and nods to the camera have to be a bit more rye so as not to interfere with the horror. “Cooties” DOES manage to pull off the horror rather well, but the gratuitous blood and guts tends to leave the humor a bit deflated before it even gets off the ground.
On the plus side, there’s a few chuckles here and there to be had. Rain Wilson makes a few jabs at Clint with some Hobbit jokes, and Elijah wood does a good job at playing the wussy school teacher. Which ironically is kind of a twist of fate being that he played a school kid who had to run from monster TEACHERS all those years ago in “The Faculty”. Rainn Wilson is goofy, but sometimes funny as the knuckled head, while co-writer Leigh Whannell actually gets the most laughs with his dead pan presentation of the school science teacher.
Rated R for horror violence and gore, language including sexual references, and some drug use
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=60042[/img]“Cooties” is presented on Blu-ray disc with an interesting encode. I say interesting not in a bad way, as the encode is rather nice with good detail. However, there are several distinct gradings to the film. The opening has a greenish push that is combined with some contrast boosting to give it a bright and shiny veneer. Much of the film has this veneer giving it a very sunny and cheery look, despite the grim goings on around them. Blood is a bit darkish and skin tones tend to look a bit washed out and pale at times. However, when they get out of the school and make it to the next town, the brightness is washed away and the primary colors are a lot brighter and more stable. Contrast is back to normal levels skin tones look great. Black levels are good, although the first half of the movie they tend to be a bit washed out due to the high contrast levels.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=60050[/img]While the video encode was just very good, the audio is fantastic for “Cooties”. The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is a blast of horror cacophony, with a nice side order of heavy bass. Dialog is always crisp and clear, even during all the shrieking and limb tearing going on. Bass is hard and heavy, with nice strong extension into the teens at several points. Surrounds are never without activity, as you can hear the sounds of feet sliding across the floor, individual metal screws hitting the ground as the teachers unscrew a vent cover, and even some blood drips over your shoulder. The ambiance is wonderful and the auditory detail is fantastic, with only a few times where I felt the background effects got a bit TOO loud.
• The Cootieary
• Circle, Circle, Dot, Dot. . .Catching Cooties
• Deleted/Alternate/Extended Scenes
• Gag Reel
• Alternate Ending with Optional Commentary
• Talking Cooties
“Cooties” horror is a tad more consistent than the humor side of the equation, but it does manage to shuffle around with a good amount of blood and carnage. I have to say, had they dialed down the humor a bit and made it less slapstick there could have been something a bit more special here. I felt as if the film had a LOT of potential, but the writers and directors desperately wanted to put the comedy at the forefront, which is a nice change of pace from pure horror films, but was executed a bit too poorly for its own good. Video is very good for the release, and audio is spectacular with a decent array of extras to round out the package. While I can’t wholeheartedly recommend “Cooties” to watch, it certainly is fun enough to make a pleasant rental for those who like the mix matched genre splicing of horror and comedy.
Starring: Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pil
Directed by: Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion
Written by: Leigh Whannell, Ian Brennan
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 88 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: December 1st 2015
Buy Cooties On Blu-ray at Amazon
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