People straight up react badly when you kill kids.
In movies, I mean. Even horror movies: it’s okay to threaten kids and to put them in danger – that’s a staple element in everything from 1955’s sublime The Night of the Hunter to Netflix fave Stranger Things – but actually committing to the bit is frowned upon. After Spielberg fed little Alex Kintner to Bruce the shark in Jaws he held off on pedicide until Schindler’s List, and that was a much more sombre affair. Of the current crop of A-list directors only Guillermo del Toro seems to be okay with it (Mimic, The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth all send young’uns to the great beyond).
Cooties, a brisk little horror comedy, was never destined to breathe the same rarefied air as the Oscar-worthy works of Spielberg and del Toro, but if your metric is “number of dead kids” it is well ahead of the pack. Directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion with a script by Ian Brennan (Glee) and Australia’s own Leigh Whannell (Saw), who both co-star, Cooties gives its characters license to dispatch a school’s worth of kids by the simple expedient of turning all the little monsters into zombies.
Our hero is depressed wannabe writer Clint (Elijah Wood), who has returned to his tiny hometown of Fort Chicken after failing to make it in the Big Apple. Taking a gig as a substitute teacher, he finds himself working alongside his high school crush, Lucy (Alison Pill), and earning the ire of her boorish gym teacher boyfriend, Wade (Rainn Wilson adding to his repertoire of overconfident jerks).