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Cooties

Year: 2014
Production Co: SpectreVision
Director: Jonathan Milott/Carey Murnion
Writer: Leigh Whannell/Ian Brennan/Josh C Waller
Cast: Elijah Wood, Allison Pill, Rainn Wilson, Leigh Whannell, Jack MacBrayer

We've had almost every other possible iteration of zombies in movies over the last couple of decades, surely zombie kids had to be one of the last frontiers. I was amazed it hadn't been done before.

Unfortunately that's the only amazing thing about this fairly lacklustre horror comedy. It deals with a zombie-like outbreak in a school where the kids fall victim and become hissing, flesh-eating ghouls, the surviving teachers holed up inside trying to ride the carnage out before help comes.

Would-be horror writer Clint (Elijah Wood), plagued by all the cliched characteristics of wannabe writers in movies, takes a substitute teaching job to make ends meet. It's the same one he attended as a kid in his small town home, but he's picked the wrong school.

At first the opposite seems true, with the pretty girl he had a crush on, Lucy (Alison Pill) a full time teacher at the school. But things go from bad to worse after the two reconnect. First it's revealed the obnoxious gym teacher Wade (Rainn Wilson) is her boyfriend. Second, the chicken nugget full of black sludge consumed during the opening credits by poor little Shelley turns her into an infected monster hungry for flesh, and after she infects the rest of the student body, horror descends.

Along with a handful of others, Clint and Lucy watch in horror out the window as the kids chase down the teachers unlucky enough to be stuck outside, knocking them to the ground and devouring them alive. It's not a bad setup for a movie, but with the same survivalist descent into hell and a few sight and script gags it needed something more.

Ironically the writers – including costar Leigh Whannell – have tried to give it a jolt in the characters, but the weird tics the script attributes to them (Whannell himself is what seems to be a high-functioning autistic with no gauge of the social barometer he's in) don't need to be there and just distract from the rest of it. Along with the love triangle subplot, it's as if the movie itself doesn't have enough faith in its own premise.

There's a handful of laugh- (softly) out-loud jokes, blood and gore you've seen done better elsewhere, and not much stitching it all together.

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