Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015)
Director: Christopher B Landon
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan, Sarah Dumont
Plot: On the eve of their last scout camp out, three best friends learn the true meaning of friendship and what being a scout is really all about, as they battle to save their hometown from the zombie apocalypse.
I must admit that when I checked my emails and saw one about tickets to a screening of Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse I was not exactly overwhelmed. Nevertheless, I headed to the cinema with an open mind as the trailer made it look at least watchable and it had been a while since I’d had popcorn.
The opening scene sees janitor Ron dancing along the hallways of a research facility to Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora’s Black Widow whilst supposedly cleaning. As he enters Dr Morris’ lab to mop the floors, Morris utters the infamous words… “don’t touch anything”. Behind a curtain Ron finds a man with pale, almost blue, skin; veins standing out against the paleness of his face. He’s also hooked up to numerous machines. The “don’t touch anything” rule doesn’t last long as Ron grabs his wrist to check for a pulse. After the patient moves, Ron stumbles backwards into the machines, breaking them, and then tries to perform CPR, in his own way, until his hands go through the man’s chest. Cut to Dr Morris with his hand stuck in the vending machine with Ron being thrown around in the background. Ron then emerges as a zombie and attacks the scientist. The bag of crisps then falls to the bottom of the vending machine. Typical!
That pretty much sets the tone for this film: stupid; funny; a bit jumpy; lots of blood, and; very typically a zombie film aimed at teenagers.
Next we meet our scouts, Augie, Ben and Carter, with their troop leader Rodgers, as they try to recruit other students to join their group, to no avail. Whilst Augie is passionate about his scouting life and ready to receive the highest honour they can bestow – the Condor badge – Ben and Carter are a bit less enthusiastic. Carter has an eye for the ladies and wants to quit scouts in order to raise their social standing in the high-school hierarchy (or truthfully, just get laid), while Ben believes they should stick it out for the sake of Augie who has struggled since the recent death of his father.
There’s an almost The Inbetweeners-esque dynamic to this friendship group with Augie embodying the role of Will, the smart but also a social reject, Ben as Simon, a lovesick puppy but ultimately a good friend, and Carter, a combination of both Jay and Neil: a lazy, sex obsessed virgin missing a few brain cells. Thrown together, they work.
After an encounter with an un-dead deer, a flat tyre, and the introduction of Kendall, Carter’s older sister who Ben has had a crush on for years, Ben and Carter are invited to a secret senior party that night. And so our devious duo set about making plans to sneak away from the camp and to the party where we meet Denise, our leading lady, legendary at the local high school for having dropped out and become a stripper (really she’s a cocktail waitress).
And so, we have our scouts, our leading lady, and our damsel in distress, now all we need are some zombies, and after a misadventure into the Lawrence of Alabia strip club where Denise works, our scouts find their zombies, as about 80% of the town’s population is now ‘zombified’. So, as the scouts join forces with Denise, it is up them to find the secret senior party and save Kendall, and stop the terrible zombie virus before it takes over the world.
Evidently, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse does have all of the clichés and trappings of your average teen zombie movie, and that’s pretty much what it is, an average teen zombie movie, with a couple of twists and turns along the way, but not enough to make it much more than an average zombie film.
The one thing that Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse does have over most other teen zombie films however, is the development of a female character. Usually the female roles are reserved for the helpless damsels in distress, or they are simply objects with no real purpose or personality – there simply to be lusted over by the male characters and audience. While it’s unfortunate that the film does have its quota of female characters of this description, Denise is the film’s saving grace in this respect.
Rather than being a helpless, screaming, object of affection, Denise is a kick-ass, gun-wielding, motorbike riding, zombie killing tough nut, who instead of needing to be saved is actually the one who does the saving. Admittedly, she does all of this while wearing very skimpy shorts and a thin, white, vest top, but it’s better than nothing; right? With her words of wisdom regarding friendship, dating, and popularity, and little details about her past revealed, Denise is quite possibly the most developed character within this movie.
Ultimately, the film is a zombie apocalypse comedy horror fused with a few coming-of-age elements, and some important lessons about friendship. However, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse fails to live up to its intriguing and wacky title, and is the type of comedy you only find funny the first time; perhaps the second time at a push.
If you like bloody comedies with a few jumpy moments, a zombie vs scout dance off, hundreds of zombie cats, and seriously cringey zombie penis scenes, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse might just be the film for you.