MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse’ Is Dumb Fun

Film: Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan
Directed by: Christopher Landon

Every time I think I have seen what will certainly be the last enjoyable horror-comedy involving zombies, a new title appears with something fun or unique that pulls me and my hard-earned money back into a theater. Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse is this year’s entry into that growing sub-genre of film, and though it’s far from perfect it more than delivers on its promise of a raunchy battle with the undead.

Being a scout in 2015 is no easy task when you’re also trying to exist within the hierarchy of a constant popularity contest like what every teen knows high school to be. Scouts Guide follows one group of sophomore-aged scouts (Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan) on the night of their final camp-out, which just so happens to fall on the same day as the zombie apocalypse. The space between their campsite and civilization initially provides safety from the undead, but when two of the three friends attempt to sneak away for a secret party with the senior class, they unknowingly place themselves in the middle of certain doom. That is, until they encounter a shotgun-wielding cocktail waitress from the local strip club.

Before the scouts and their new friend can flee they learn of a government plot to bomb their tiny town without any attempts to rescue remaining survivors. They could easily leave and save themselves, but remembering their pledge to help their fellow man whenever possible, the scouts decide to sacrifice themselves in an attempt to save whoever may still be alive. They won’t go down without a fight, of course, and soon the would-be losers are the only ones capable of saving the day. Sprinkle in a bit of romance and teen drama, not to mention a dash of ultra-violence, and you have a recipe for raunchy fun that finds new ground in the vastly overcrowded world of zombie.

The hit-and-miss humor is more than forgivable as Scouts Guide manages to deliver more often than not, and the variety of jokes is actually quite surprising. The references are strong and subtle, ranging from Romero classics to the video game Zombies Ate My Neighbors, with gore gags and dick jokes being delivered in equal measure, including twice at the same time. There are also Britney Spears sing-a-longs, a hilarious and likely improvised dance number from Workaholics cast member Blake Anderson, and zombie cats. Yes, zombie cats. Plural.

The gags are largely juvenile in nature, but so are the characters involved. They’re fifteen, maybe sixteen, and they’re still obsessed with all things sex. It’s lowest common denominator comedy, but for a certain, care-free audience it will work just fine.

Where Scouts Guide falls flat is in its attempt to add depth to its characters. For a film that features a noble lead accompanied by two friends, one fat and one crass, Scouts Guide tries incredibly hard to make you believe they are more than one-dimensional heroes. A romantic subplot, as well as lingering tension between the friends that lasts far too long into the film, forces the story to stop what would otherwise be a fast-moving adventure for empty expository sequences that no one on screen can deliver in a way that feels at all compelling. This is not meant to be a film with fully realized characters that go on some epic quest to save their community from undead cannibals, or at least nothing about the premise or presentation would lead you to believe that. This is a dick and fart joke movie that just so happens to also feature a horde of zombies. They make good use of the zombies, sure, but at the end of the day the point of the film is to make you have a good time. When the film forgets this point, or loses its way with unnecessary emotions, the entire adventure flatlines.

There will probably never be a point in the future when zombie lovers demand their repertory theater show a digital print of Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse as part of their midnight madness Halloween celebration, but for those with Netflix and/or Hulu it will be a film that makes their ever-growing streaming queue and eventually provides some amount of laughs based on their love of raunchy comedy. I walked away feeling as if I had gotten my money’s worth, but with no desire to ever see the same adventure again. It’s the kind of film that is fun while it lasts and then gets completely erased from your mind a day or two after it’s seen. That will be more than enough for some, but others will no doubt complain it’s far too uninspired for its own good. Approach with caution.


James Shotwell
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