Cooties (film)

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Cooties poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
  • Jonathan Milott
  • Cary Murnion
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Ian Brennan
  • Leigh Whannell
  • Josh C. Waller
Music by Kreng
Cinematography Lyle Vincent
Edited by Brett W. Bachman
Distributed by Lionsgate Premiere[1]
Release date
  • January 18, 2014 (2014-01-18) (Sundance)
  • September 18, 2015 (2015-09-18) (United States)
Running time
94 minutes[1]
Country United States[1]
Language English
Box office $348,091[2]

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,[3] before being released on September 18, 2015, in a limited release and through video on demand by Lionsgate Premiere.[4]


In Fort Chicken, Illinois, fourth-grade student Shelly consumes a tainted black-dotted chicken nugget, contains mutant virus, and begins wheezing and growing blisters. Elsewhere, aspiring horror writer Clint substitutes at Fort Chicken Elementary, where he reunites with his former high school crush Lucy, only to discover that she is already dating physical education teacher Wade.

During Clint's class, Shelly attacks and infects her classmate Patriot after he inadvertently pulls a pigtail out of her scalp. She also claws Clint as she runs out of the room. Though she tries to escape the school by digging her way out before she fully turns, Shelly turns feral and passes the virus to another bully, Dink, who spreads it throughout the playground by scratching the majority of the children. They quickly become infected and kill several staff members along with a police officer. The few surviving staff members, consisting of Clint, Lucy, Wade, Doug, Tracy, and Rebekkah, hide in the faculty lounge but are attacked by Patriot.

After escaping to the library and joining with uninfected student Calvin, the staff barricades themselves in the music room. Wade notices Clint has been scratched by Shelly and quarantines him. Clint is only experiencing symptoms of stomach flu, and Doug deduces that the virus does not affect adults like it does children. The staff plans to wait until the parents come at the end of the day, but the first parent to arrive is killed by her child. The children charge them and the group is forced to flee, managing to rescue a teenager, Tamra, only to discover that she has also been scratched.

The staff is attacked again, and Wade kills Dink with a fire extinguisher. Doug extracts and analyzes Dink's brain, which has turned black and rotten due to the virus. He concludes that the virus is only dangerous to the prepubescent, which is why Clint and Tamra did not turn feral. The group unites with the school janitor, Hitachi, but Calvin passes out due to diabetic shock. The group sends Clint through the ventilation system to gather a chocolate bar for Calvin, 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 for his behavior over a walkie-talkie. Clint knocks out several children with pills and he and Lucy reconvene with Wade and the others, who utilize various tools in the school as improvised weapons. They discover a horde outside, and manage to fight their way through, although Hitachi is overwhelmed inside while Wade stays behind to ensure the others get away.

Patriot, having hidden in Wade's truck bed, attacks Clint who crushes him against a tree. The group continues to the nearby town of Danville, where they run out of gas and discover it similarly overrun. The group learns that the viral infection has spread across the country. Several children ambush them, and they barricade themselves inside a nearby building. They retrieve a contaminated chicken nugget for Doug to study, with the intent of creating a vaccination for the virus. The group continues into a playroom, filled with more children including Shelly. Wade and Hitachi arrive 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. He lights the gasoline trail and burns the building down. They escape in a van, driving out of the town to "someplace kids don't wanna go" as Shelly burns to death in pursuit.



  • 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.[5]


The filming began on July 15, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.[6] Elijah Wood and Glacier Films produced the film.[7] In September 2014, it was announced that they had filmed a new ending for the film which was paid for by Lionsgate.[8] The new ending debuted at the Stanley Film Festival.[9]


Cooties (Music from The Motion Picture)
Soundtrack album by Kreng
Released September 18, 2015
Genre Film soundtrack
Label Milan Records

The film was scored by Kreng, and was released on September 18, 2015, by Milan Records, in digital download and physical CD formats.[10]

Release and reception[edit]

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.[11] 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.[12] The film went onto screen at the Fantasia International Film Festival on July 17, 2015.[13] The film had its Los Angeles premiere on September 3, 2015, at SpectreFest.[14] It has also been selected to screen at the Sitges Film Festival on October 10, 2015.[15]

Box office[edit]

The film was released in the US on September 18, 2015, in a limited release and through video on demand by Lionsgate Premiere.[4] 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. It debuted in eight 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)

As of September 30, 2015, the movie has a domestic gross of $55,749 and an international gross of $204,793 for a worldwide gross of $260,542.[16]

Critical reception[edit]

Cooties holds a 45% approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 38 reviews and an average rating of 5.2/10. The critical consensus reads: "A horror-comedy without enough of either, Cooties is fatally content to skate by on its intriguingly oddball premise."[17] On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 49 out of 100 based on 21 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[18]

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, Cootie 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."[3]

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."[19] 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."[20]

Nick Allen for 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."[21] 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."[22]

Home media[edit]

The film was released direct-to-video in the United Kingdom on October 12, 2015.[23] and in Germany on October 15, 2015.[24]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Cooties (2015)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved 2017-12-28. 
  2. ^ "Cooties (2015)". Retrieved December 30, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Burton, Kyle (20 January 2014). "Sundance Review: Elijah Wood Vehicle 'Cooties' Is Gross Genre Fun". 
  4. ^ a b Woods, Kevin. "Cooties to open Stanley Film Festival; hits theaters/VOD in September - Horror Movie News | Arrow in the Head". Joblo. Retrieved 2015-06-13. 
  5. ^ Tyler Doupé (2015-05-20). "Get Infected by this Brand New Cooties Trailer!". Wicked Horror. Retrieved 2015-06-13. 
  6. ^ Jen Yamato (12 July 2013). "Elijah Wood Horror-Comedy 'Cooties' Catches Alison Pill, Rainn Wilson, Jack McBrayer, Jorge Garcia, Nasim Pedrad". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  7. ^ Hugh Armitage (15 July 2013). "Cooties will begin shooting today (July 15) in Los Angeles". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  8. ^ Brad Miska (9 September 2014). "'Cooties' Filmmakers Shoot New Ending For Lionsgate". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  9. ^ Tyler Doupé (6 April 2015). "Cooties to Premiere New Ending at Stanley Film Festival". Wicked Horror. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  10. ^ "Cooties". 18 September 2015 – via Amazon. 
  11. ^ "Sundance 2014: Park City at Midnight". Retrieved January 18, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Stanley Film Festival Announces 'Cooties' As Opening Night Film". Indiewire. 2015-03-23. Retrieved 2015-06-13. 
  13. ^ "Cooties - Fantasia 2015". 
  14. ^ Busch, Anita (21 August 2015). "SpectreVision Unveils Lineup For 3rd Annual Genre Film Festival". 
  15. ^ Rowan-Legg, Shelagh (2 July 2015). "Sitges 2015 Announced: COOTIES, VICTORIA, TURBO KID, SUMMER CAMP And More". 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Cooties (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 30, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Cooties Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 30, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Sundance Film Review: 'Cooties'". January 27, 2014. Retrieved December 30, 2015. 
  20. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (2015-09-17). "Review: 'Cooties,' Back to School With Zombies and Gore". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-10-30. 
  21. ^ Allen, Nick (2015-09-18). "Cooties". Retrieved 2017-10-30. 
  22. ^ Abele, Robert (2015-09-17). "Review Elijah Wood, Alison Pill and Rainn Wilson run wild in horror comedy 'Cooties'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2017-10-30. 
  23. ^ "Cooties". Retrieved December 30, 2015. 
  24. ^ "Cooties" – via Amazon. 

External links[edit]