Published Sep 17, 2015Shaun of the Dead will always hold a spot in people's hearts for breathing new life into the zombie horror subgenre and making it fun again, but when it comes to comedic depictions of cannibalistic bloodlust, Cooties comes a close second.
Cooties is the kind of film that seemingly shouldn't be. Its writers, Leigh Whannell (the Insidious and Saw franchises) and Ian Brennan (Glee, of all things), look like an unlikely pairing on paper, but end up creating one of the more charming and terrifying pictures in a long time.
While Dawn of the Dead used zombies to take a stab at consumerist culture, Cooties, somewhat similarly, uses the platform to offer a thinly veiled critique of the modern meat industry.
Likely inspired by that pink chicken slime that made its rounds on the internet a few years back, the catalyst for the zombie outbreak in Cooties is due to a few tainted chicken nuggets, one of which is consumed in the cafeteria of an elementary school where Clint (super nerd Elijah Wood), a substitute teacher and somewhat shitty horror writer, is teaching for the day.
Taking hold of the children's brains one by one, it's up to Clint and his co-workers — The Office's Rainn Wilson, as former high-school athlete turned P.E. teacher named Wade; Alison Pill, a happy-go-lucky but strong-willed fourth grade teacher; and NBC alums Jack McBrayer and Nasim Pedrad (30 Rock and Saturday Night Live, respectively), as well as Lost's Jorge Garcia, a stoned parking and child pick-up supervisor unable to tell if everything is really happening or if it's just one big mushroom trip — to quarantine their building and reconnect with the rest of humanity.
Gushy and grotesque scenes of vice principals being eaten alive and children ripping the skin off of each other's faces follows, but with it comes ample amounts of purposely campy one-liners and comedic elements that always manage to keep things light.
But like all good zombie thrillers, there's a lot going on under the bulk of brutal killings. Ideas about the over-medication of America's youth, the respect and treatment of teachers and agricultural sustainability all play underlying roles in the film's story. You'll just probably miss them because you're laughing so hard.