It’s the first day of summer school and in the small town of Fort Chicken, Texas the kids are definitely not alright. It seems a wee case of highly contagious rage virus has turned the schoolyard’s prepubescent little darlings into gnashing and gnawing, scratching and clawing relentlessly murderous pint sized terrors. But fear not, sort of. It’s all in mostly good, if not remotely clean, fun. If you like gross-out horror comedy, “Cooties,” now available on DVD, gives you plenty to sink your teeth into. If you can stomach the opening credit sequence. In spite of the bloodbath to come, it’s by far the nastiest part and one of the most peculiarly disgusting sights you’ll see.
Those opening titles treat us to a depiction of the manufacturing of a widely popular fast food staple: chicken nuggets. From slaughterhouse to school cafeteria, we see how otherwise disposable poultry parts are churned into a goo and sent down a conveyor belt in little lumps for glazing and breading prior to packaging and shipping. If that’s not gross enough in and of itself, wait till you track something yucky and green dripping into the mix and making its way to a hungry little girl’s mouth. You won’t be reaching for a nugget anytime soon after this.
Yet just as frightening as the kids outside are the teachers inside. Between the lot of them, they might make up one fully functioning human intelligence. However, they represent the only hope of possibly saving the day. They include Elijah Wood as Clint, a self-proclaimed writer who’s never actually written a word. He still carries a crush for Lucy (Allison Pill), his one-time school gal pal who’s just a notch above dumb blonde. She’s currently seeing Wade (Rain Wilson), a brainless, out of shape former dumb jock who seems like he’s stuck in the seventies.
The often quite funny and sometimes a little scary script was co-written by Leigh Whannell, who scripted the “Insidious” movies and played Specs in them as well. He also appears here as the curious but highly questionable science teacher, Doug. In addition to bringing some new life to a hugely popular yet somewhat worn out genre, “Cooties” also offers some fun inside jokes and references to other films. Most notable is Wade speaking of Clint as creeping around “like a little Hobbit.” Wade also gets a memorable and possibly catch phrase destined three-word climactic line that’s sure to leave a smile but won’t be printed here.