Director: Christoper B. Landon. Cast: Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan, David Koechner, Sarah Dumont. Genre: Horror comedy. Running Time: 93 minutes. Budget: $15 million. Rating: UK (15), USA (R).
Ever since the monster of a smash hit show The Walking Dead debuted in 2010, Hollywood – better yet the world – has devoured anything zombie-related just as zombies devour brains. The latest onscreen offering of the flesh hungry undead is the teenage horror comedy Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.
The film involves a trio of teenage boys – the down to earth Ben (Tye Sheridan), the loud mouthed Carter (Logan Miller) and the geeky Augie (Joey Morgan) – who are lifelong friends and the only members of the local Scouts group led by Scout Leader Rogers (David Koechner). Carter desperately wants to leave the club as he feels he’s outgrown the Scouts and while Ben agrees, he feels too guilty to tell the dedicated Augie.
Ben and Carter are invited to a party by the cool kids (including Ben’s crush and Carter’s sister Kendall) which happens to coincide with a Scout camping trip in the woods. When Scout Leader Rogers fails to show up, the two boys decide to ditch Augie and head to the party. Cue the carnage as on their way to the party they discover that their small hometown has been ravaged by a mysterious virus which has turned everyone into zombies. With the help of the hot, shotgun-toting cocktail waitress Denise (Sarah Dumont), the boys must use their scouting skills to survive the mayhem.
Director Christopher B. Landon (Disturbia) gives the film a strong Superbad-in-the-zombiepocalypse-vibe as many of its story elements and characters share similarities with the 2007 hit. Unfortunately Scouts Guide lacks the charm, spirt and most importantly regular laughs that Superbad possessed and it pales in comparison to zombie comedies such as Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland.
After watching Scouts Guide, I wish I could go back in time and tell my 12-year-old self to leave school, head to Hollywood and write a horror comedy script as many of the films jokes felt like they were written by someone just hitting puberty. Of course, the most memorable teen comedies (such as Superbad, American Pie and Project X) are packed to the brim with gross-out humour but their abundance of dirty jokes are original and funny enough to work. Many of the crude jokes in Scouts Guide fail to land as they’re either too predictable or too dumb to bring out any laughs.
To be fair, the film’s funniest moment does involve a zombie penis. And there’s certainly fun to be had with the zombies as there’s a few comically wacky scenes involving the undead. While Scouts Guide often lacks originality, it at least offers a fresh and funny spin on what zombies can do. The climatic zombie killing scene is gloriously gory as the ultraviolence is pure mindless fun.
Just as the comedy is inconsistent, so too is the horror as there are some genuinely good scare jumps while there are others which you can see coming from a mile off.
After impressing with performances in Mud and The Tree of Life, Tye Sheridan (who’ll star in 2016’s X Men: Apocalypse as a young Cyclops) will probably not look back at Scouts Guide as a career highlight, although his likeable but rather plain Ben anchors the film.
Logan Miller’s selfie-obsessed Carter walks very a thin line between annoying and entertaining but to Miller’s credit he handles his character’s serious moments well.
Joey Morgan’s chubby nerd Augie and Sarah Dumont’s kick ass Denise are easily the standout characters. Augie’s awkwardness steals many scenes and despite her distractingly tight tank-top, Denise has enough charisma to be more than just a pretty face.
I do feel a little bit sorry for David Koechner (Champ in the Anchorman films) who isn’t really given enough material to display his natural comedic talent.
Scouts Guide has about every high school movie cliché you can think of and while some of its jokes hit, there’s also many that miss. Still there’s enough silliness to make for an enjoyable ride, even if it’s not a particularly memorable one. Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse scores a:
1ish – 2ish Stay away at ALL costs!!!
3ish – 4ish A bad film, not Michael Jackson Bad, but just straight up bad
5ish – 6ish Probably worth seeing at some point
7ish – 8ish A fantastic film definitely worth watching whenever you can
9ish -10 Unmissable – go watch it now!!!
Check out the trailer here: