Saturday, September 19, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: COOTIES (2015)

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From IMDB:

Storyline

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.



MOVIE INFO

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. -- (C) Lionsgate Premiere

Rating: R (for horror violence and gore, language including sexual references, and some drug use)
Genre: Horror, Comedy
In Theaters: Sep 18, 2015 Limited
Runtime: 1 hr. 36 min.
Lionsgate Premiere - Official Site


COOTIES OPENS IN MALAYSIA ON THE 24th of SEPTEMBER. TO FIND OUT WHEN YOU CAN WATCH THIS EVERYWHERE ELSE CLICK HERE

This is Clint, he used to live in New York but now he doesn't. ©Lionsgate Premiere

So here's another Zombie movie but this time, KIDS!!

Okay so it's another Zombie movie with one big difference, this time the zombies are made up entirely of kids and it happens mostly in school. So this is where I inform those of you actually reading this that SPOILERS ARE COMING. 

Cooties opens with us having a look at a local chicken farm where we see chickens of course then a man. The man harasses the chickens before finally picking one quite roughly and then snapping its neck before dropping it in a thing that removes its feathers. Then we see it's head get chopped off and bits and pieces of it go into the grinder before coming out the other end of it as a pink goo. Much like the famous pink goo that went viral a while back. The goo then gets shaped into nuggets, breaded, partly cooked then frozen and packed to be sent to schools. At a school in a small town it gets cooked and served up to the kids. One particular nugget though looks a little different and a little gross. The gross nugget gets served along with a couple of other nuggets to a blond girl who eats it then gets sick.

That's Lucy. Not really a love interest more like an unrequited love interest but hey there's always hope, right? ©Lionsgate Premiere

Next we meet Clint Hadson () he's just woken up when his mother walks in. He asks her about what she thinks about his manuscript for a book that he's writing. She gives the motherly answer of how she likes it a lot but a little prodding and pestering for an honest answer to help his writing along results in some pretty brutal criticisms but he takes it in his stride makes some notes and readies himself for the day ahead. Moving on we see Clint in his car, a Prius that's pretty beat up and dirty, and he's heading to his job as a substitute teacher at Fort Chicken Elementary. On the way he speaks into his voice recorder ideas for his book. On the radio a news report about tainted chicken nuggets is being read. When he reaches the school he's met by the school guard Rick (who mistakes him for his mushroom supplier (not the kind you put into pizza but I guess you could if you wanted to). There's a confused exchange for a moment but as soon as he mentions Clint's name into his walkie-talkie all is sorted out and Clint is let into the school grounds. 

Clint parks his car but as soon as he does a huge pick-up truck parks right next to his and parks so close he can't get out and unfortunately for him he's parked his car too close to the car on the other side as well so he crawls out the back of the car. As he closes his boot (or trunk if you're American) he notices that someone has written out 'Eat a Cock' on the grime that's on his rear windshield. He tries to rub it off. Done with erasing the message he walks across the school grounds to get to the school. On his walk there he bumps into kids who respond rudely to him, notice a mother and her son arguing and using the F-word and other things you'd see in an episode of South Park. 

This is Wade he's a the schools sports instructor or gym teacher or something. He overcompensates for his masculinity. The usual type of character. ©Lionsgate Premiere

Inside he meets with Vice Principal Simms (who's in charge of the school at the moment, Simms tells him the rules of the school and such and that the school has a no handphone policy before asking Clint to surrender his handphone. Clint then heads to the teacher's lounge where he meets Lucy McCormick (Alison Pill), Wade Johnson (Rainn Wilson), Doug (Leigh Whannell), Tracy (Jack McBrayer) and Rebekkah Halverson (Nasim Pedrad), the other teachers at the school. Lucy turns out to be an old school friend, Wade is her boyfriend and the man who parked his pick-up truck so close that Clint couldn't get out, Doug is a socially awkward man, Tracy is talking about how his partners balls are so nice and hairy when Clint walks in and Rebekkah is incredibly defensive and threatens to trigger her rape alarm if Clint even looks at her wrong. They chat for a while before the bell rings and Lucy walks with Clint to where his class is.

Walking into his class he tries to be the hip and modern teacher but his attempts fall on deaf ears and when he asks the kids to call him by his first name as he writes it on the board one particularly bratty kid misreads his name, you try and guess what he reads instead. He confronts the brat who calls himself Patriot () and tries to take his handphone away from him but is instead told to back off before he calls his parents and tells them that Clint touch him in an inappropriate place. Meanwhile in the middle of the class room sits the girl who ate the tainted nugget, she's got ulcers and blisters all over her face, her nose is dripping snot and she's pretty catatonic. Clint defeated by the brat goes back to the front of the class and instead takes out his manuscript and asks if any of the kids will volunteer to read it out loud. While the volunteer Calvin (reads Patriot and his sidekick Dink (Miles Elliot) harass Shelly () the infected girl to get a reaction out of her but instead of a snide remark or a retort she turns and jumps on Patriot biting and clawing him. Clint quickly tries to break them up but as soon as he pulls Shelly off of Patriot she runs out of the class and out into the playground. He takes Patriot to the school nurse who tells him that she can't do much and that it's better if he takes him to the hospital instead. Clint leaves him there for a while while he puts a bandage on the scratch that Shelly gave him on his arm. Conveniently this all happens just as recess is about to start.

This is Rick. He's the school guard and a fan of mushrooms. His hallucinations aren't all that much fun. ©Lionsgate Premiere

As the other kids are let out to play and the teachers gather in the teachers room, except Wade who is outside trying to shoot some hoops, Shelly is by the bushes near the fence trying to dig a hole. Dink walks up to her trying to do what sidekicks do which is to stand up for the boss but is instead attacked by Shelly. Dink is instantaneously turned into a zombie. Now that Dink's a zombie he begins to run around the school playground scratching every kid in sight which also turns them instantaneously into zombies. Upon transformation the kids begin to attack the adults around them, they rip them to shreds and eat them alive. This all happens while Wade is missing every shot and the teachers sit in the teachers lounge which overlooks the playground. 

When Wade finally notices the kids have already surrounded him and Clint and the others are looking in shock and horror at what's happening outside. They scream for Wade to run inside. Wade runs like hell's little demons want his ass for nuggets and barely makes it inside. Safe inside they begin to panic and try to use the phone to call out but Patriot has ripped up the telephone lines and when they try to run out the door to find another place to go to they're met at the door by Zombie Patriot who begins to attack everyone. They manage to not get scratch or bitten and push him into a steel cabinet which apparently has a woman in it. Patriot goes to town on her like a fat man at a buffet. The teachers make a run for it but when they get outside they're met by the other zombie kids. They run back inside and head to the music room. Patriot meanwhile manages to escape the cabinet and heads to the principal's room and destroys all the handphones that Simms took from everyone.

So within seconds of being scratched by an infected kid the rest become zombies and very, very hungry. And the infection came from a chicken. ©Lionsgate Premiere

On the way to the music room they end up in the library and find Calvin who was studying for his English exam. They take him along. Up in the music room Wade tells them to arm themselves with anything they can find, Clint disagrees. Lucy then chimes in and tells them that at three o'clock the parents will come by to pick up their kids and that's when they can try to get them to get help. Just then Wade spots the bandage on Clint's arm. When asked, Clint reluctantly tells them what happened and then tells them he feels fine but he doesn't look like it. Wade decides to quarantine him in the next room. Doug tries to butt in with his opinion but no one listens. Just then they realize it's about to be three o'clock and they rush out of the music room to head up to the roof they pick up Clint on the way after deciding that's he's harmless. 

On the roof they try to get the attention of the parent who's come to pick up their child but she's too busy talking on the phone to realize, she's even too busy to notice that her child is covered in blood. When her son gets in the car he first attacks the baby sitting behind before attacking his mother. Meanwhile up on the roof their screams for help draws the zombies attention to them and when one of them has their legs grabbed they immediately think a zombie's climbed up the tree to the roof but it turns out that this girl isn't a zombie. They all run inside and head into the auditorium but just as they get through the door zombie Dink manages to jump on Doug, They manage to pull Dink off Doug and Wade grabs a fire extinguisher and begins to smash Dink's head into the floorboards. Everyone recoils in horror when Wade finally stops. Wade walks off towards the washroom. Lucy decides to check up on Tamra (their new ward and finds out that she's been scratched, she tells Tamra to clean the scratch and that everything will be ok. Doug meanwhile decides he needs to figure out what's going on with the kids and takes Dink's body away to dissect him.

Kids can turn anything into a toy. Even when they're zombies. These zombies are smarter than your average zombies. ©Lionsgate Premiere

At the end of the dissection Doug hypothesizes that the infection only infects kids and not adults and when asked about why Tamra hasn't turned into a zombie he knocks on the washroom door to ask if Tamra has had her menses. By now it's evening. Patriot meanwhile has found the power box to the school and shuts down all the lights. In the dark the team begins to panic and start hearing sounds coming towards them. They almost die of fright when the door suddenly burst open. It's Hatachi () the school janitor. Hatachi takes them down to his room.

In the room they come up with a new plan, Calvin is diabetic so they need to get his some food and the only place they can think of is the vending machine in the teacher's lounge which is also where Wade's car keys are. Clint is chosen to crawl through the air ducts to get to the teacher's lounge to get something for Calvin as well as Wade's keys. But just as soon as Clint disappears into the ducts Lucy gets all riled up over how Wade has been acting and treating Clint and herself that she decides to follow Clint. They both crawl through and almost get spotted when in one room a very young zombie almost spots them when Clint accidentally drops his torch. When they reach the teacher's lounge Clint tries the vending machine while Lucy heads to Simms office to see if she can find a phone. Clint stumbles with the vending machine until the same young zombie meanders into the teacher's lounge and Clint hides behind the vending machine. Lucy meanwhile finds that all the phones have been destroyed and heads back to the teacher's lounge. Just as Lucy gets back to the lounge the little zombie realizes that she's not alone and begins to scream calling all the other zombies to her. Clint finally manages to get a candy bar from the machine and they both jump back into the air ducts with Patriot and the other zombies nipping at their ankles. They manage to toss the candy down to the others before drawing the zombies in another direction back to Simms office where they trap them in the duct with a table. They then head towards the library to take refuge. They warn the others that the zombies are coming and they begin to stuff the air duct with all sorts of things before tying it up tight.

So the best place to yell for help is two floors above the zombies, I'm sure they won't be paying attention. After all they're busy skipping rope. Also they look like they're saying goodbye to people on the Titanic. ©Lionsgate Premiere

In the library Clint has a confession and the two have a moment together before realizing that it's wrong. Then Lucy calls Wade up on the walkie-talkie and they try to have a heart to heart but get interrupted by Clint who comes up with a plan. The plan is to drug the zombies with drugs and have the others in Hatachi's room to arm themselves with whatever they can find and meet-up in the hall. When they meet-up they make their final assault and head for Wade's car almost everyone makes it. Wade sacrifices himself in order to let the others escape.

The team now head out of town to look for help but as they reach the outskirts of town a hand reaches in and grabs Clint's arm. It's Patriot. Clint speeds up then does a handbrake turn throwing Patriot off the truck onto the asphalt where he slides to a stop but that doesn't kill him as he gets up his front all bloodied and his jaw hanging by a tendon, Clint puts the truck into reverse and rams Patriot up against a tree killing him for sure this time.

So in this scene a kids head gets bashed again and again and again with a fire extinguisher. How does that make you feel? ©Lionsgate Premiere

The team head for the next town, Danville and find that it's completely deserted. When their truck runs out of fuel they get out and try to figure out their next move. Doug calls them over to a storefront where TV sets are playing news reports from across the country. The epidemic is now a pandemic. As they watch the news they're surrounded by zombies. When they turn and see their situation they make a run for it and manage to slip into a door down a back alley. When Doug finally finds a light they find themselves in the middle of what was a child's birthday party. The group make their way in the dark and find themselves in an unusual place, then the lights turn on and they discover that they're in the middle of a kids indoor playground and the zombie kids are above them. Just when things seem bleak the group begins to hear a rumble coming from the other side of the entrance. Just then Wade bursts through and fires a supersoaker at the zombies while screaming at the others to get out. They run out one by one and head towards the back of a van driven by Rick who has been sitting all this time right by the school getting high and wondering if what he's seeing is real or just a hallucination.

When all are in the back of the van Wade still stands there spraying liquid at the zombies. Clint screams at him that water doesn't do anything to them. Wade tells him it isn't water and pulls out a lighter. He lights the fluid and says something catchy or iconic or whatever.

The end.

Remember the kid that got his head bashed in? Well, now he's having his brain removed in the bathroom. ©Lionsgate Premiere

So was this unusual variation to the zombie genre good?

Let's say it was amusing. Using kids as zombies is certainly new and original. You almost never see kid zombie, right? It's a novel idea for sure but that's the limit of Cootie's originality and novelty factor. This is very much your typical zombie fare but unfortunately it would seem that it doesn't know what kind of zombie movie it wants to be. Does it want to be a comedy like Shaun of the Dead (2004) or a gore and thriller fest like Night of the Living Dead (1968). That's the thing that I found myself wondering. There's just not enough humor for it to be funny and with the amount of gore in the movie but committed by kids it doesn't really feel right either.

Let's start with the story. As I said it's not at all original. There's the introduction of the main cast and the hero. Then there's the infection part which then leads to those being infected becoming zombies. Then the hero and friends fight their way past the zombies but someone is lost or sacrifices himself. They manage to get away but they're not safe yet. There's another encounter and a last stand by the hero or in  the case of the person who sacrifices themselves they may come back just in time to save the others. And of course it ends on a cliffhanger with no real resolution as to what happens to the survivors or the zombies. Occasionally a movie will have a little epilogue about how things improve or they find a cure or something but most just end with a cliffhanger I've noticed. But the thing about a cliffhanger ending is that the final battle is usually so exciting and cathartic that you don't really care. This movie the final battle is far from exciting or cathartic and you've lost interest in everything and everyone. Also holes in the story, lots of holes. I'll leave that to you figure it out if you go watch it.

That's the kids brain. Still looks pretty good considering the head that protected it was smashed repeatedly with a big, heavy, steel canister. ©Lionsgate Premiere

Which brings me to the characters which through no fault of the actors playing them is about as interesting and memorable as toilet paper. The characters are so dull, uninteresting and typical that even talented actors like Elijah Wood who has been acting since he was a child couldn't bring his character to life. It's really quite sad. As I was trying to recall what I saw I actually had trouble remembering who did what since none of them really stood out.

The zombies. The kids. When I heard about it I thought, this should be an interesting movie. When the kids showed up and then became zombies, it was, for about 10 minutes then you start noticing that the kids can't really act very well and all they're doing is running around in make-up. The only kid that had a lot of screen time was Patriot and he was just annoying. Basically he become an exaggeration of his character to a point that it wasn't no longer funny. Just a kid being over the top as only a kid can be. And sitting there watching the kids covered in blood and ripping into adults and acting like the zombies that have become a staple of hollywood films since 28 Days Later (2002)  you know the fast running and growling zombies is just so odd and sometimes a little disturbing sometimes especially when you spot the looks of glee on their faces. It's really weird.

Of course you must have the crawling and sneaking around just within earshot of a zombie scene. Also why are all air ducts and air vents in movies so clean? ©Lionsgate Premiere

Then there's the gore. So much gore. And sometimes it doesn't even feel necessary. The opening scene shows a man snap a chicken's neck, then shows the chicken's dismembered head and a scene where maggots crawl over a chicken carcass. Then when the kids rip into the adults, a kid plays with entrails like a jumping rope, a dismembered head is used like a barbie doll. Not sure what the point of it all was. And the thing is is that it really doesn't help the story much all that gore. It's like, let's do it because we can. Let's give the audience something to remember. I'd rather remember a good story.

Honestly speaking this movie for me falls under the B-Grade horror movie category. I'm guessing the only reason it got any notice at all is because of the cast if it wasn't for the cast I don't think this movie may have gotten made. It's a unique take on the genre that failed to capitalize on the novelty and instead fell back on the stereotypes of the genre and the worst part is is that it isn't even done all that well. The only way to watch this and to enjoy it is to lower your expectations, lower them down to whatever your expectations are of a B-Grade horror movie. For those of you who are fans of the zombie genre watch this because it's the first time I can think of where kids are the zombies.

Ah yes, the hero shot where everyone stands together just before the big battle. Frodo still has that look on his face. ©Lionsgate Premiere

For everyone else, go watch this if you're really curious and have time to spare. The humor is there but it's more on the amusing end then the hilarious end. Maybe you'll laugh a little louder at some points but it won't be that loud and you won't be laughing throughout. If you're in it for the scares then yes there are scares to be had but it's nothing new if you're used to watching horror movies or zombie movies.

Truthfully I was sort of looking forward to this movie and looking forwards to having an entertaining time. At the end I was only somewhat entertained. The novelty wears of really fast. I'm going to give this movie a fair 2 out 5.

Check out the trailer below and see if you share my opinion based on the trailer. And if you like it drop me a message and tell me why.

video


COOTIES IS DISTRIBUTED IN MALAYSIA BY TGV PICTURES SO HEAD ON OVER TO TGV.COM.MY TO GET YOUR TICKETS WHEN IT OPENS ON THE 24th OF SEPTEMBER OR YOU CAN TRY THEIR NIFTY NEW SELF-SERVICE KIOSK IF YOU'RE AT THE 1 UTAMA OUTLET.


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