Monday, January 30, 2017

Meet Coot

Zombies have to be close to max saturation in pop culture. But there might still be a few nooks and crannies of the zombie premise left to play with, as demonstrated by the horror-comedy movie Cooties.

Cooties is set in an elementary school, where a substitute teacher is filling in on the worst day possible. Tainted chicken nuggets in the subpar cafeteria food have sent the kids into a rabid frenzy, and their vicious bites are infecting all the entire student body with frightening speed, turning them into mindless cannibal killers.

This movie's comedic intentions are proclaimed in its casting. While there are some performers who have straddled comedy and drama, like Elijah Wood and The Newsroom's Alison Pill, there's also Rainn Wilson and Jack McBrayer (of The Office and 30 Rock, respectively). Lost's Jorge Garcia plays a running stoner joke for the entire movie. Leigh Whannell, who you might think was put here for serious horror cred (because of his history with Saw and Insidious, among others) actually plays the most ridiculous character of all -- a so-earnest-it's-funny performance that would be right at home in a classic Zucker Brothers film.

Then there's the horror side of the film. It definitely honors the "revulsion" side of the genre more than the "scary." There's plenty of over-the-top violence throughout the film, nearly all involving children. This will either make you cringe or, if you're the right kind of twisted, make you laugh. Either reaction is typical for the genre.

But I do wish the movie changed gears more effectively, or hit either of its elements more strongly. It is good for a few laughs, but it's not outright hilarious. It is good for a few "ewwws," but it's not truly horrific. The movie lands in this space where I think only genre fans could really like it... and yet those very fans probably won't love it because, despite the different premise, it really isn't anything they haven't seen before.

I think I'd have to give Cooties a B. It lands squarely in "if you like movies like this, you'll like this movie" territory. I wish it had done more, but in a genre that often falls short, I suppose it does enough.

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