If you don’t recall, Casey was the nerdy kid full of conspiracy theories in the 1998 teen sci-fi-horror The Faculty, a movie in which aliens take over the bodies of the teachers in a small Ohio town where football reigns king, to the detriment of every other department and the social landscape of the school. Played by a meek Elijah Wood, Casey was a Classic Geek™ in the manner of so many 90s movies: upon arriving at school in the morning, he’s immediately slammed in the face by a careless elbow, an accident for which he apologizes. Soon after, we see him get picked up by a bunch of jocks (of course) and slammed crotch-first into the flagpole. We’re led to imagine this is how all of Casey’s days began, and unfortunately, if Cooties is to be believed, things didn’t get much better for him after high school.
Pretend the ending of The Faculty never happened; it was all wish fulfillment anyway. Even if power-hungry Delilah had coupled up with Casey during his fifteen minutes of fame, we know she would have eventually dropped him for the next big thing. Now imagine all of those kids became elementary school teachers. Delilah has grown into Rebekkah (Nasim Pedrad), a dogmatic Republican who belligerently spouts rhetoric about gun laws (they’re too stringent) and evolution (it’s bunk, not that the school board will let her say that). Zeke is still the weird guy who knows way too much about the current epidemic plaguing the school, he just goes by “Doug” now (Leigh Whannell). Lucy is an adult version of Marybeth Louise Hutchinson, all smiles and tight-lipped optimism, assuming that whole alien queen thing never happened. The gym teacher is still the gym teacher.
But Cooties doesn’t shy away from skewering its own cohorts, either. There’s the aforementioned gun toting, “rape button” sporting Rebekkah, a mess of contradictions who wouldn’t be out of place at a Donald Trump rally. There’s also a teacher who hilariously shouts “Follow me, I do Crossfit!” before meeting his abrupt demise. Even Clint, our protagonist, is a millennial cliché – the failed artist sponging off his parents. Furthermore, the contemptuous disconnect between the teachers and students inherently puts some of the blame on the older generation for not doing better by the younger one.
But as each of us gets older and grumpier, more disillusioned, I think we all feel that inclination to watch the world burn from time to time – even if history has shown that, by and large, the kids are alright. It’s a reminder that, as always, the more things change, the more they stay the same.