If you like your scary movies with actual scares, cringe-worthy dismemberment and laugh-out-loud one-liners courtesy a cast which includes Rainn Wilson, Elijah Wood, Alison Pill and Jack McBrayer, then their new horror comedy Cooties is a must-see.
The film revolves around a group of apathetic small town school teachers whose middle school students catch a disgusting chicken-born virus — the introduction of which is so disturbing you might never eat another chicken nugget — that turns the kids into flesh-eating monsters. Screen Rant sat down with Wood and Pill recently to discuss the film’s successful blend of scary, gross and funny, when they first encountered actual cooties and what we can expect from Pill’s Goon 2 and if Wood is ready for a sequel to The Last Witch Hunter.
When did you both learn about actual cooties?
Elijah Wood: 5 or 6 maybe?
Alison Pill: Really? I went to an all girls school for grades 1 & 2 where it was not an issue, and then unfortunately had to join boys in grade 3, but then I was like, [they’re] actually, very handsome. So I think I was 8? Because prior to that, they are not gross, I had friends still at 5 who were boys, we played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles together and that was okay because April O’Neil had boy friends, they were turtles but they were male, that was still okay and then at a certain point it shifts and it’s at that shift point when you reach cooties.
I like that your friendship role model was April O’Neil.
Wood: I was really attracted to April O’Neil
Pill: Obviously. She’s a hot journalist who’s friends with amazing turtles, why would you not be?
Did you avoid catching the cooties?
Wood: I don’t know that cooties ever played a part in my life because I thought girls were really cute, you know what I mean? I wasn’t afraid of kissing on girls. Just loved girls, it was easy, never went through that gross phase.
How would you describe the scare factor in this versus the humor factor?
Pill: It’s tricky. It’s dependent on the viewer. I really think if it touches on some of your fears, then you will definitely [be scared]. The attempt was to make a genuinely equal match of horror and comedy and hopefully, there have been a few people who watched it alone and thought it was scary, so that’s a great rewarding thing because it’s always a worry to have a horror comedy be properly horrific.
Wood: Yeah, I think horror comedies tend to skew more comedy than horror, for the most part. There are examples of the contrary where it is relatively even matched, American Werewolf in London is terrifying but also very funny. So yeah, it was definitely our intention, but I think that you’re right, in some ways it’s also what you bring into it, what you find scary. If you have a sensitivity to the things we are dealing with that are scary, then you’ll probably be more scared than you’ll laugh.
Pill: I also think it’s interesting if you go in with the belief that every horror comedy is mostly comedy, and with our poster and with the people involved, you’re like, “Oh it’s a comedy that’s about a scary movie.”
Wood: Right, it’s almost a Trojan horse.
Pill: Yeah and you’re like, “Oh no no,” there are actual horror elements that are very integral to the plot and the whole thing of it.
Yeah, I was terrified.
Wood and Pill: Good!
I’m a huge was to begin with, but I needed a huge strong drink afterward. Whoever did the sound foley, ugh, it is so gross.
Pill: Yay! This is great to hear.
Wood: Oh awesome, that makes me happy
How is Goon 2 production going?
Pill: We are finished. I was only there for a couple weeks but it went great, they should be finished shooting about now, I need to check in. Basically I shot a wonderful domestic comedy with Sean William Scott and Elisha Cuthbert, and then they’re shooting a hockey movie [Laughs]
Wood: I think that movie is going to be so awesome.
Pill: It’s so awesome, everybody came back and it’s so exciting, like everybody.
Wood: It’s gonna be really good. [Whispers] I saw some footage.
Pill: You did? Oh because you’re friends with our editor, that’s how.
Pill: Jason Eisner who directed Hobo with a Shotgun is editing it and they are buddies.
Is it more of the same? Taking it up a notch?
Wood: Oh you’ll see, it’s so dope.
Pill: It’s definitely becoming more operatic.
Lots of talk about Last Witch Hunter 2, do you know anything about it?
Wood: Yeah according to Vin, right?
Yeah, he’s good at starting stuff.
Wood: He’s really good at starting things that may or may not be true. I don’t know, I have no idea what Lionsgate has planned. I think it’s a completely new story that no one’s ever heard of before, so it really needs to come out and find an audience, see if people want to see more stories in that universe.
Would you want a place in that sequel universe?
Wood: Potentially, yeah. I always feel like sequels are fine, as long as there’s a reason for their existence, you know?
Pill: And maybe it’s reason enough that sometimes people want to come back and hang out.
Wood: An exception in the case of there maybe being a Cooties 2, does the world need it? I don’t really care, I kind of just want us all to work together again. That’s a rare exception. A selfish desire.
I hope there’s a second one.
Wood: Cool. We hope so too.
Cooties opens in theaters September 18, 2015.