Cooties gets ADHD mid-film and loses the fun

Cooties is one of those films you heard about for a long time, and yet, its release date kept getting pushed back. Technically a 2014 release due to indie film festivals, it wasn’t released until 2015 and its wishy-washy tone and vague direction explains why.

A mysterious virus hits an isolated elementary school, transforming the kids into a feral swarm of mass savages. An unlikely hero must lead a motley band of teachers in the fight of their lives.

With a strong opening montage at a chicken nugget plant, Cooties starts off promising and self-aware of its light tone and irreverent sense of humor. The audience thinks, “okay, this is what I was expecting, I mean, elementary school kids are about to attack their teachers, so this better be quirky.” The characters are unique and odd, but not quite archetypes of the stereotypes you remember from your childhood, which is what you were hoping.

The children are almost too bratty and mean in a crass way, lacking any charm and are perhaps deliberately unlikable so audience members can palate their inevitable bloody demise. Unfortunately for Cooties, once the bloodshed starts it completely loses its message, tone and direction. The film shifts focus to a free for all odd-ball gore session and an unnecessary romantic sub-plot that should have been gutted from the final cut.

It’s not even that Cooties is too serious, it just lacks the harmonious balance between horror and comedy and its characters are completely missing that special spark that engages audience members to films of this caliber. Basically all the fun of the film is in the trailer and what Cooties devolves to is a run-away survival flick in its most basic form.

In the end, Cooties just left me wanting more, specifically a different film than the one I just watched. I wanted more original snarky commentary on the growing pains of childhood and public school education in the zombie setting. I wanted the characters to be more complex and have a sense of relation to one another. I wanted the film to be more focused rather than attempting to reach out past school bounds.

Most importantly I wanted the film to be more original in its execution, because while it tries to make fun of the cheesy tropes of similar films, it simply just comes across as being one of those films.