An inane American action horror comedy, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse [note: that’s the title, punctuation error included – Ed.] focuses upon three teenagers’ attempts to hold at bay a horde of zombies who have all but taken over their small town. The trio – Ben, Carter and Augie (played respectively by Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller and Joey Morgan) – are scouts. Notwithstanding the enthusiasm of their scout leader, Mr Rogers (David Koechner), their collective endeavours to sign up others to the movement constantly falls on deaf ears.
The three are supposedly best mates and yet two of them are ready to give scouts the heave ho because Carter recognises it is holding them back socially. But their timing is off as Augie is about to receive yet another accolade by way of a patch to add to the collection already on his uniform, so they decide to go through the ceremony first. Little do they realise though that their scouting skills are about to be put to the ultimate test when zombies take a bite out of anything that moves. Their unlikely partner is a busty cocktail waitress, Denise (Sarah Dumont), who works at the local strip club and whom they bump into while trying to illegally purchase alcohol. Incidentally, the reason the zombies came to prominence in this locale is because a curious, slacker cleaner inadvertently awakens the undead in a laboratory.
Director and co-writer Christopher B. Landon grew up watching movies like The Goonies, Monster Squad and Gremlins. He liked the fact that they had such a playful and quirky energy and wanted to bring that same spirit to Scouts Guide. But to push things a little further, Landon added a dash of Sam Raimi (Evil Dead series) to the mix. He wanted the movie to have an 80s type of charm about it that he felt had been missing from the mainstream for some time. In fairness, there was also a personal connection between Landon and the three scouts because he had a hard time letting go of childhood, knowing he was a bit of an “outsider”. He enjoyed exploring the theme of wanting to fit in but also trying to stay true to oneself.
Sarah Dumont’s was the trickiest role for him to cast. He created the persona because he wanted to see a strong female in the picture. Landon was basically looking for “a cool dude in a hot girl’s body” and found that person in Dumont. As he puts it, “she’s grotesquely beautiful, but she has the mouth of a trucker and the swagger of a rock star.”
Let’s face it though, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is no Shaun of the Dead. It is based on lowest common denominator laughs. It is about nerds with hormones racing, so boobs and sex jokes are prominent. And yes, there are zombies doing their best to sink their teeth into the unsuspecting populace. These are the ugly critters much like we are used to them. You basically have to shoot them in the head and splatter their brains everywhere to be rid of them.
Much of the movie is stupid (much like a multitude of shlock horror films), but parts of it are also fun, although you should probably park your brain at the door to get the most out of Scouts Guide. It is likely best appreciated if you are a teenager, so you can giggle away with your mates, as two girls next to me did throughout. Importantly, is it Tye Sheridan’s moral compass that ends up grounding the film.
Rated MA, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse scores a 4 out of 10.
Director: Christopher Landon
Cast: Tye Sheridan, David Koechner, Cloris Leachman¸ Halston Sage, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan, Sarah Dumont and Patrick Schwarzenegger
Release Date: 5 November 2015
Rating: MA 15+
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television