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From the twisted minds of Leigh Whannell (co-creator of Saw and Insidious) and Ian Brennan (co-creator of "Glee"), COOTIES is a horror comedy with unexpected laughs and unapologetic thrills. When a cafeteria food virus turns elementary school children into killer zombies, a group of misfit teachers must band together to escape the playground carnage. The film stars Elijah Wood (The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings), Rainn Wilson ("The Office"), and Alison Pill ("The Newsroom") as teachers who fight to survive the mayhem while hilariously bickering in an uncomfortable love triangle on the worst Monday of their lives.
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Much like the so often lauded Shaun of the Dead or the somewhat more recent Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, the success of a horror comedy depends on creating characters that are interesting/funny on their own. In this case, our main character Clint (Elijah Wood) is sort of the straight man for the other characters exaggerated personalities. In my opinion, Leigh Whannel's performance as a truly eccentric teacher stole the show and had me laughing at his every scene.
The horror elements are there - though I will admit the effects in a few places could have been a bit better or at least better executed. Infected (read: zombified) children are running amok with devious delight and there are some well done sequences of chase and attack. We don't entirely learn what is happening all that clearly but the origin of the infection reminds this viewer of the absurd Troma classic Poultrygeist.
If I had a complaint about the film, it would be that the ending left me wanting more. It felt rather abrupt when the credits started rolling as I felt there was another 10 minutes to go in this story. It wasn't a bad ending necessarily or a cheap ending but just didn't provide the kind of closure one would want - which can be the dark every dies variety or the infection is cured happy ending - but I understand they didn't want to necessarily have such resolution.
Regardless, this is a fun film made better by watching it with a group. The humor is subtle in many cases which I appreciate because they didn't go for the broad stuff the whole time. The plot moves along quickly and there is little downtime between horror and funny exchanges. I am saddened that this film didn't get more exposure or good reviews upon release because it is obvious that all involved put their hearts in it and had fun making it. I hope that will not stop them (SpectreVision) from making more quality films in the future.