Directed by Jonathan Milott [Other horror films: Becky (2020)] & Cary Murnion [Other horror films: Becky (2020)]
I didn’t go into this one with many expectations, which is probably a positive, as I doubt that Cooties could have surpassed them. For a zombie comedy, Cooties is definitely a competently made film, and it may even be a good movie, but I don’t think it’s particularly great in any way.
The higher-budget production here looks nice, and we’re given a decent amount of mildly interesting characters, but the movie doesn’t really transcend the feel of an average film. Special effects, cinematography, it’s all decent, but at the same time, I really didn’t see much in here that’s likely to be either that memorable or that praise-worthy, mainly because zombie comedies are a tough sub-genre to crack anyway.
One high selling point here is the cast, of course. I never much cared for the star, being Elijah Wood (an actor who I personally haven’t seen in much, but is most well-known for Lord of the Rings), and I could have done entirely without Rainn Wilson’s (The Office) character, and now that I think on it, the characters played by Jack McBrayer, Nasim Pedrad, and Peter Kwong didn’t add much either.
If it weren’t for Alison Pill and Leigh Whannell, this would have been a much harder movie to swallow. I didn’t necessarily love Alison Pill’s character, but she did have much the same attitude her character from The Newsroom possessed, and I generally liked her spunk. Whannell, of course, played Adam in the first Saw movie, and though he’s noticeably older here, his socially awkward, scientifically-detached character is quite a lot of fun. Shout-out to Matt Jones’ (Badger from Breaking Bad) single appearance, which was nice, but the brunt of the enjoyment from performances came from Pill and Whannell.
The comedy here is moderately balanced, but it can really get a bit overboard at times (and many of these times revolve around Wilson’s ridiculous character, who seems right out of a Will Ferrell movie), which didn’t help matters. The gore was pretty solid, and I did like seeing zombie kids get taken down, but some parts were just too silly, and much of the ending itself was sort of suspect.
There’s also not near as much a sense as dread as you’d hope. Virtually none of the main characters die. One seems to have been torn apart, but they pop up at the end of the film, along with another character who had gone missing. I just didn’t get how at least three of the more likely suspects weren’t killed off, just to give us a sense of some type of real danger, but it just never happened.
Cooties isn’t a bad film, but it really should have been better, especially with the budget and solid cast members. I don’t think it really broke ground in the zombie comedy genre, even with zombie kids and teachers kicking their asses, but like I said, it’s still a competent enough film. It’s just not memorable, or really remarkable whatsoever.