Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Cooties Movie Poster Image
Tasteless zombie horror-comedy has tons of cartoonish gore.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 88 minutes

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 9 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Vague defense of the profession of teaching, but it's not really supported by the characters' actions. Also takes aim at modern parenting -- i.e. moms who are too busy on their cell phones to pay attention to their kids, as well as kids on Ritalin and Adderall. Characters work together but in a kind of disjointed way.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some of the characters seem like good people, but by the end of the film, viewers aren't inclined to forgive any of them for their actions. Cultural stereotypes are shown and mentioned.


Cartoonishly over-the-top gory violence. Adults beat up, punch, pummel, smash, and otherwise destroy child zombies. Blood sprays, strong gore, disgusting wounds, severed limbs and heads. Disturbing prologue shows chicken nuggets being made. Other stomach-churning moments are played for laughs.


Passionate kissing between a man and a woman (she already has a boyfriend). Some innuendo. Discussion of puberty and periods.


Very strong language, much of it spoken by kids, includes multiple uses of "f--k," "c--k," "s--t," "c--t," "a--hole," "ass," "butthole," "balls," "d--k," "crap," "vagina," "douche," "bitch," "goddamn," "pee," and one "motherf----r."


Very brief mention of Apple products.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A secondary character spends the movie comically tripping on "shrooms" and is shown buying them from a dealer and eating them. Kids pop Ritalin and Adderall pills at school.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cooties is a horror-comedy about kids who turn into zombies after eating tainted chicken nuggets. Despite a talented cast and a screenplay co-written by horror veteran Leigh Whannell, the movie eventually grows boring and tasteless and, frankly, is too icky to recommend to just about anyone. Adults bash and fight kid zombies, there's lots of blood and gore (including severed limbs), and a disturbing, stomach-turning prologue shows chicken nuggets being made. Language is extremely strong, with constant use of words including "f--k," "s--t," and "c--t." There's some kissing and innuendo; a minor character spends the movie tripping on "shrooms," and kids pop Ritalin and Adderall pills. There's also some cultural stereotyping.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byNely21 August 11, 2019
Really good movie. I found it to be funny. In my opinion we need a second part.
Adult Written byNew Mexico May 19, 2020

The Truth About This Movie In New Mexico

Too Much Swearing Is Present In This Movie But Otherwise Unless Your Under 18 Years Old Watch It! Because It Is Rated R
Kid, 12 years old July 16, 2019

Not for kids

Disturbing imagery of chicken nuggets being made, zombie children tearing apart teachers, and lots and lots of blood and gore. The f-word is used many times as... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySarah Bear April 30, 2021

Great Movie

Brief sexual jokes, Gross chicken nugget creation process, several swear words, blood. Students at a school Are infected by a crazy disease, and attack anybody... Continue reading

What's the story?

Struggling writer Clint (Elijah Wood) returns from a sojourn in New York to his hometown of Fort Chicken to take a job as a substitute summer school teacher. He meets an old crush, Lucy (Alison Pill), in the teacher's lounge, but his hopes are dashed when he learns she's dating uncouth P.E. teacher Wade (Rainn Wilson). Meanwhile, some tainted chicken nuggets have found their way to the school cafeteria, and a girl has been infected with some kind of terrible, zombie-like disease. She bites another kid, and soon most of the kids have turned into flesh-eating monsters. The teachers, who remain unaffected, must band together to survive.

Is it any good?

Starting off promisingly with an utterly gruesome prologue (you'll never eat chicken nuggets again) and some funny, likable characters, this horror-comedy eventually becomes bland and tasteless. Co-written by Leigh Whannell, who helped concoct the Saw and Insidious movies, COOTIES might have started out as a good idea, and it certainly attracted a fine cast. It also makes some wry, satirical comments about modern schooling and parenting (with Ritalin and Adderall making appearances), as well as pleading a heartfelt defense of the teaching profession.

But the idea of kids as zombies -- with adults beating, bashing, pummeling, and slashing them -- gets distasteful and sour, and the laughs stop. Plus, the movie loses interest in the humans, and they turn into cliches. (There's even an unfunny Asian stereotype.) It's evident that co-directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion ended up in a corner with no way out, especially given Cooties' weirdly abrupt ending.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Cooties' zombie violence. How did it make you feel? Was it funny, thrilling, or disturbing? How did the filmmakers achieve that effect? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • What's the appeal of zombie movies? How does this one compare to others you've seen?

  • What does the movie have to say about the relationships between kids and adults in the modern world? Do you think it makes any fair points?

  • Are there bullies in the movie? Are they dealt with in a positive way?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love monsters

Themes & Topics

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