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Theatrical release poster
|Edited by||Brett W. Bachman|
|Distributed by||Lionsgate Premiere|
Cooties is a 2014 American horror comedy film directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion from a screenplay written by Ian Brennan and Leigh Whannell. The film stars Elijah Wood, Alison Pill, Rainn Wilson, Jack McBrayer, Whannell, Nasim Pedrad, Brennan, and Jorge Garcia as a group of elementary school employees who fight to survive an outbreak among students that turn them aggressive and cannibalistic.
The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2014, before being released on September 18, 2015, in a limited release and through video on demand by Lionsgate Premiere.
In Fort Chicken, Illinois, a batch of poorly-prepared chicken nuggets containing a mutant virus arrives at Fort Chicken Elementary. A student, fourth grader Shelley Linker, consumes one of the tainted black-dotted chicken nuggets. Meanwhile, an aspiring horror writer named Clint Hadson substitutes at Fort Chicken Elementary, where he is reunited with his former high school crush Lucy McCormick, who he learned is dating the physical education teacher Wade Johnson. During Clint's class, a boy named Patriot is attacked by a blister-ridden and increasingly feral Shelley after he inadvertently pulls a pigtail out of her scalp, with Clint being scratched by her before she runs. After Patriot is taken to the nurse's office, Patriot's friend Dink confronts Shelley while she attempts to dig her way out of the school. Shelley ends up infecting Dink, who spreads it throughout the playground by scratching the majority of the children before they proceed to kill several staff members including Mr. Peterson, Vice Principal Simms, and Sherriff Dave. Later, Clint, Lucy, Wade, and the other surviving staff members (consisting of Doug Davis, Tracy Lacey, and Rebekkah Halverson) are forced to flee the faculty lounge when attacked by Patriot. After escaping to the library and joined by uninfected student Calvin, the staff barricades themselves in the music room. Wade notices Clint has been scratched by Shelley and quarantines him; meanwhile, Doug deducing that Clint is only experiencing symptoms of stomach flu as the virus does not affect adults like it does children.
The staff plans to head to the roof at the end of the school day to call out to the arriving parents for help, only to watch the first arriving parent to be killed by her child, before they are forced back into the school. As Wade is forced to kill Dink when he followed them into the auditorium, the group is joined by a teenager named Tamra, who they found was scratched by one of the infected kids. Doug concludes from his autopsy of Dink that the infected children are mostly brain dead and the virus only affects preadolescent children. As Patriot takes out the power, the group sees that Calvin starts passing out from diabetic shock as they escape with the school janitor Hitachi and take refuge with him. The group sends Clint through the ventilation system to get a chocolate bar for Calvin, along with Wade's truck keys and their cellphones. Lucy joins Clint and they manage to secure a chocolate bar to bring Calvin out of diabetic shock. Clint and Lucy are separated from the group and get trapped in the library, where they confess their feelings for each other and kiss. Shortly after, Wade apologizes to Lucy for his behavior over a walkie-talkie. Clint knocks out several children with pills and he and Lucy reconvene with Wade and the others as they made themselves improvised weapons. The staff fight their way through the hallway and the parking lot, with Hitachi being overwhelmed by the infected children inside the school, while Wade stays behind to ensure the others get away. Patriot, having hidden in Wade's truck bed, attacks Clint and ends up being crushed against a tree.
The group continues to the nearby town of Danville before Wade's truck runs out of gas, finding the town similarly overrun while learning the viral infection has spread across the country. Several children ambush them, and they barricade themselves inside a children's entertainment building where they retrieve a contaminated chicken nugget for Doug to study in hope of developing a vaccine. They're later cornered in a playroom by Shelley and the infected children. Wade and Hitachi arrive in a van and help the group escape the room. Wade uses a massive beach ball to barricade the children inside while spraying them with a water gun filled with gasoline, lighting the gasoline trail to burn the building down. They manage to escape, driving out of the town to "someplace kids don't wanna go" as Shelley burns to death in pursuit.
In a post-credits scene, Hitachi is seen at the school, sitting in a chair and having a snack, and finishes telling a story he was telling the teachers earlier.
- Elijah Wood as Clint Hadson
- Rainn Wilson as Wade Johnson
- Alison Pill as Lucy McCormick
- Jack McBrayer as Tracy Lacey
- Leigh Whannell as Doug Davis
- Nasim Pedrad as Rebekkah Halverson
- Ian Brennan as Vice Principal Simms
- Jorge Garcia as Rick
- Sunny May Allison as Shelley Linker
- Cooper Roth as Patriot
- Miles Elliot as Dink
- Armani Jackson as Calvin
- Morgan Lily as Tamra
- Peter Kwong as Mr. Hatachi
- Kate Flannery as Charman Hadson
- Matt Jones as Sheriff Dave
- Jake Brennan as Lincoln
- Mark Christopher Lawrence as Mr. Pederson
- Rebecca Marshall as Emily Dopkins
- Aiden Lovekamp as Racer Dopkins
- Laura Stovall as Moon
- Jared Breeze as Safety Helmet Boy
- Angela Bullock as Rhonda
- Nikita Ager as Patriot's Mom
- Elizabeth Bogush as Crying Mother
- Boni Yanagisawa as Miss Nash
- Lauren Katz as Mrs. Gordon
- Brian Henderson as Mr. Henderson
- Tammie Baird as Mrs. Birk
- Ashley Rae Miller as Tricycle Girl
- Isabella Revel as Angela
- Sophia Strauss as Lipstick Girl
- Jonathan Milott – director
- Cary Murnion – director
- Leigh Whannell – screenwriter, story writer
- Ian Brennan – screenwriter, story writer
- Josh C. Waller – producer, story writer
- Daniel Noah – producer
- Elijah Wood – producer
- Tove Christensen – producer
- Georgy Malkov – producer
- Steven Schneider – producer
- Hayden Christensen – executive producer
- Lyle Vincent – cinematographer
- Thomas William Hallbauer – production designer
- Gina Scarnati – costume designer
- Brett W. Bachman – editor
- Kreng – composer
The film was produced by Elijah Wood's production company SpectreVision and Tove Christensen's company Glacier Films. Executive Producers include Leigh Whannell, Seth William Meier and Ian C. Brennan.
The filming began on July 15, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Elijah Wood and Glacier Films produced the film. In September 2014, it was announced that they had filmed a new ending for the film which was paid for by Lionsgate. The new ending debuted at the Stanley Film Festival.
|Cooties (Music from The Motion Picture)|
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||September 18, 2015|
Release and reception
The film premiered on January 18, 2014, at the Egyptian Theatre in Park City, Utah during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival where it was selected to be featured in the "Park City at Midnight" program. The original planned release date in the United States was October 10, 2014. The film had its premiere opening night at the Stanley Film Festival on April 30, 2015. The film went onto screen at the Fantasia International Film Festival on July 17, 2015. The film had its Los Angeles premiere on September 3, 2015, at SpectreFest. It has also been selected to screen at the Sitges Film Festival on October 10, 2015.
The film was released in the U.S. on September 18, 2015, in a limited release and through video on demand by Lionsgate Premiere. It debuted in 29 screens, where it placed 61st with $33,031. It saw a 77% drop in its second weekend with a weekend gross of $7,545 from 20 screens, bringing its cumulative total to $55,749.
The film also opened in Russia the same weekend, where it came in seventh place with a weekend total of $113,995 from 695 screens (but with a low $164 per screen average).
The film opened in Malaysia on September 23, 2015. It debuted in eighth place with a gross of $5,381 from 40 screens. The following day saw the movie released in both Malaysia ($22,321 from 40 screens), Thailand ($57,024 from 62 screens), and Ukraine ($6,109 from 44 screens).
Cooties holds an approval rating of 45% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 42 reviews and an average rating of 5.28/10. The critical consensus reads: "A horror-comedy without enough of either, Cooties is fatally content to skate by on its intriguingly oddball premise." On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 49 out of 100 based on 21 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Kyle Burton of IndieWire gave the film a B+ and said, "Gore can only go so far in the service of humor. Fortunately, the team behind Cooties—which includes Saw creator Leigh Whannell and Glee creator Ian Brennan—manage to pit comedy and horror together in a satisfying package. With mainstay comedy faces, Cooties could reach a larger audience than other similar cultish work. It's the best play on the recent zombie craze, and while not as well-timed as Zombieland, it has the potential to match that movie's success with a wide enough release."
Peter Debruge of Variety said, "Circle, circle, dot, dot. A schoolyard full of anklebiters develops a genuine taste for flesh in Cooties, an irreverent, off-color zom-com that seizes on the scourge of playgrounds everywhere when a spontaneous outbreak of brain-rotting, cannibalism-inducing germs erupts within a small-town elementary school. Told from the teachers’ p.o.v., this tongue-in-cheek midnight movie feels wrong in so many ways, asking a handful of irresponsible adults to bash and bludgeon their way through foaming packs of infected kids in order to save themselves. Acquired by Lionsgate at Sundance, the franchise-ready offering should benefit enormously from one of the distrib's clever marketing campaigns." Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times wrote, "though Cooties has a reasonable amount of laughs and frights, and though real teachers may find it an apt allegory for the zombielike charges in their classrooms, it’s not really funny enough to achieve grown-up cachet, and it's too ugly and violent for younger viewers."
Nick Allen for RogerEbert.com gave the film one and a half stars, saying, "Cooties is meant to be a big joke, but with such a stunted imagination for its story or style, it's only a single gag." Robert Abele of The Los Angeles Times found that the film started off promising "But as with most of these genre-tweaking romps, the fizz dissipates and what's left are obvious gore beats, lame jokes, uninspired plot mechanics and an inability to end the mayhem satisfactorily."
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