The zombie film has become a massively creatively exhausted genre in the last few years. Since the late 2000s, filmmakers have been turning to zombie parodies and throwing zombies in with absurdly incongruous things as in the likes of Zombie Beach Party (2003), Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006), Zombie Cheerleader Camp (2007), Zombie Strippers! (2008), Attack of the Vegan Zombies! (2009), Stag Night of the Dead (2009), Big Tits Zombie (2010), Santa Claus vs. the Zombies (2010), Bong of the Dead (2011), Cockneys vs Zombies (2012), Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies (2014), Zombeavers (2014), Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015), Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies (2016) and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016). Starting out as a way to revive the zombie genre, the zombie parody is itself now starting to become a creatively exhausted vein.
Nevertheless, Cooties is one effort that stands up rather well. Its treatment of zombies themes the initial infection, the outbreak, the characters at siege inside a building is not any different to standard. One twist we do get is that the zombies are all school-age children and the locale is an elementary school. I am willing to bet that one or other of the scriptwriters on the film had previously worked as a teacher the film seems devastatingly on the ball in its wicked satire of teachers and their methods, even their peccadilloes and manner of speech. It is this sharp and witty humour, the wryly penetrating observation of the various characters and puncturing of their self-pretensions that make the film. Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion have a very snappy pace and the film hits in with a great sense of delivery and just keeps going.
Milott and Murnion do well when it comes to the siege scenes. This is not a film that goes overboard on splatter and gore, although they dont entirely shy away from it either there is notable macabre montage where we see the children using intestines as skipping ropes, a severed finger placed between the spokes of a bicycle wheel, removed eyeballs as marbles and so on. Mostly it is a film that seems to be having the time of its life deflating zombie movie cliches.
The greater triumph of the film is also its casting. Elijah Wood does well as the average dweeb with pretensions of being a writer, although much of the show is stolen by Raiin Wilson who has a fantastic line in tough guy bravado. All of the supporting cast do well in the roles they have to perfectly on the ball comic ends. Scriptwriter Leigh Whannell also turns up as the teacher lacking in social graces that we first see reading a book on how to have a conversation, while his other co-writer Ian Brennan is also present as the wannabe hippie assistant principal.